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Damage still reverberating from Royal Dutch Shell reserves scandal

By John Donovan

The Guardian reports today that several hundred senior scientists employed by Shell at the Thornton Research Centre in Cheshire “will be scattered to other offices” in what is described as a more general retreat by Shell from the UK.

Shell staff, who are said to be “seething,” apparently believe the retreat from the UK is a consequence of the reserves scandal that came to light in 2004.

Shell executive directors including Group Chairman, Sir Phillip Watts (above right), were forced to resign. Basically Shell had repeatably filed false Form 20F returns to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission each year, inflating claimed proven hydrocarbon reserves.

Confidence in the filings was built up by references to Shell’s claimed General Business Principles pledging: honesty, integrity, transparency etc. (A confidence tricksters charter)

Shell ended up being fined for massive securities fraud. There were also several successful class action lawsuits.

Dutch directors of the Royal Dutch Shell Group seem to have blamed its British executive directors for the scandal. As a consequence, shareholders in Shell Transport And Trading Company have been demoted into 2nd class members of the merged company (Royal Dutch Shell Plc) that emerged from the ashes of the Shell Transport/Royal Dutch partnership.

There is no annual AGM held in the UK for British shareholders in Shell, as they had been for the 100 years prior to the scandal, but instead, a mere satellite event at which no executive directors of Royal Dutch Shell Plc are present. All requests for the AGM to alternate between the Hague and London have been bluntly rejected.

At least one shareholder in Shell Transport And Trading Company Plc, my father, Alfred Donovan, was robbed of his shareholding during the share transfer process. His shares vanished. This probably happened to many other shareholders. If so, all were, like my father, innocent victims of wrongdoing by the relevant greedy, dishonest Shell executive directors, British AND Dutch, who left the company in disgrace, but with huge settlement packages, no doubt to buy their silence.

The disinformation machine at Shell continues. It is only a matter of months ago that the Chester Chronicle reported: Shell says there will be a ‘presence at Thornton for the foreseeable future’. The report went on to say: Shell has begun a consultation process about the changes but says there are ‘no immediate and definite staff impacts’.

That assurance has proven to be very short lived.

The Guardian says that the facility will be closed completely in 2014.


Daily Telegraph: Shell drops ‘bombshell’ on reserves: 9 January 2004

The Times: How Shell blew a hole in a 100-year reputation: 10 January 2004

The West Australian: Investors howl for Shell’s blood: 12 January 2004

London Evening Standard: Shell bosses lied to the City: 19 April 2004

(Former executives, led by ex-chairman Sir Philip Watts, admitted they had repeatedly lied to investors about the true level of Shell’s oil and gas reserves.)

Houston Chronicle: ‘Sick and tired about lying’ at Shell: 19 April 2004

Bloomberg: Shell Loses AAA Credit Rating: 19 April 2004

Shell bosses ‘fooled the market’: 19 April 2004

The Guardian: Trail of emails reveals depths of deceit at the heart of Shell: 20 April 2004

The Guardian: Shell admits it misled investors: 20 April 2004

The Independent: Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis: 20 April 2004

The Scotsman: Shell admits reserve ‘lies’: 20 April 2004

The Scotsman: Shell implodes as e-mails provide damning evidence: 20 April 2004

The Times: Deceitful Shell ‘needs ten years’ to rebuild exploration business: 20 April 2004

Financial Times: Observer Column: Shell-shocked: Corporate slogans consigned to the dustbin of history no. 94: “You can be sure of Shell.”: 20 April 2004

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Dutch/Shell Group exec was ‘sick and tired’ of lying: 20 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Memos expose Shell’s years of lying: 8 May 2004

The Scotsman: Shell’s reputation left in tatters: 21 April 2004

TheStarOnline: Shell report exposes lies, CFO sacked: 21 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Shell suffers second cut to credit rating: 21 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Sacked Shell boss ‘escorted from HQ’: 22 April 2004

The Times: A very British kind of scandal: why Shell is no Enron: 23 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Shell’s lies over reserves spark FSA investigation: 24 April 2004

Times: “Shell is a disreputable company in need of a strong injection of ethics”: 25 April 2004 “

The Mail On Sunday: Shell’s top bosses named in £8 billion lawsuit after being spared the sack: 25 April 2004

Daily Mail: Shell attacked from all sides: 26 April 2004

(OIL giant Shell urgently needs to embark on a damage limitation offensive with investors before regulatory probes and lawsuits send the crisis spiralling out of control.)

Daily Telegraph: Shell gives Watts a £1m golden farewell: 23 May 2004

Daily Telegraph: Shell slices still more off proven reserves: 25 May 2004

Daily Telegraph: Watts’ pension pot tops £10m: 28 May 2004

fin24: Shell directors under fire: 20 June 2004

Extract: “The report came just a day after Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad quoted a former executive of one of the oil group’s subsidiaries as saying half of the company’s 400 most senior managers were aware of the problem

London Evening Standard: Shell ‘has lied for 10 years’: 26 June 2004

Sadistic sacking of a Royal Dutch Shell whistleblower: 27 October 2010 webpage containing links to thousands of pages of U.S. court documents and reports relating to the U.S. consolidated class action in respect of the Shell Reserves Fraud

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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