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Shell Defamation Suit

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 09.22.43In 2007, the Department of Justice confronted Shell about its work in Nigeria, and at the time, investigators suspected that there may have been bribery of foreign officials that would allow Shell to get better access to various goods and services.

From a JD Supra Press Release

The Texas Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Shell Oil Co.’s pending defamation case. Robert Writt, a former Shell employee, sued the company for defamation after Shell submitted a report to the Department of Justice about his alleged involvement in committing numerous violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA).

It’s an interesting case — can internal investigation reports really be considered defamation? It’s just one question the court will have to consider as it makes its decision. It will depend largely on the truth of some of the allegations included in the DOJ report.

What appears to be indisputable is that Shell’s overseas contractors were suspected of FCPA violations. In 2007, the Department of Justice confronted Shell about its work in Nigeria, and at the time, investigators suspected that there may have been bribery of foreign officials that would allow Shell to get better access to various goods and services. Shell then agreed to voluntarily conduct an internal investigation of its corporation.

A year and a half later, when Shell submitted its investigation report to the DOJ, it had also prepared a clear plan for the prevention of future violations through discipline of certain staff. Writt was implicated in the report as being part of these FCPA violations, which means that Shell accused Writt of a crime.

Writt denies these claims, saying he did not commit any violations and actually reported the bribes to his superiors within the company. He filed the lawsuit against shell alleging defamation and wrongful termination. The trial court sided in favor of Shell, and then the appeals process began. Now, the Texas Supreme Court has the opportunity to hear the case. The decision will definitely be of interest to other companies looking to fire employees after alleged FCPA violations.

SOURCE PRESS RELEASE

RELATED

Shell to pay $48m Nigerian bribe fine: Daily Telegraph 4 November 2010

Extract

These companies, including Shell, admitted they “approved of or condoned the payment of bribes on their behalf in Nigeria and falsely recorded the bribe payments made on their behalf as legitimate business expenses in their corporate books, records and accounts”.

SHELL IN BRIBERY FINE: Daily Express 6 November 2010

Extract

Shell must pay a $30million “criminal penalty” over charges it paid $2million to a sub-contractor “with the knowledge that some or all of the money” would be used to bribe Nigerian officials to allow equipment into the country without paying duty. Shell, which has not admitted guilt, must pay a further $18million to repay profits and interests.

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Cease and Desist Order: Shell Corruption in Nigeria

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