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OPL 245 Scandal: Wiretapped phone call between Ben van Beurden and Simon Henry

By John Donovan

On 17 February 2016, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden and his scandal-prone CFO Simon Henry thought they were having a private telephone discussion about a dawn raid carried out by Dutch police on the HQ of Royal Dutch Shell Plc in the Hague.

The raid was in relation to the $1.3 bn OPL 245 oil block Nigerian corruption scandal involving Shell, ENI and Nigerian fraudsters, including former Nigerian Oil Minister Dan Etete. Police spent many hours during the raid searching the offices of various Shell executives.

During the telephone discussion about the raid, van Beurden and Henry expressed concern about the role in the deal of former MI6 agents hired by Shell. Email correspondence between the former spies – Guy Colgate and John Copleston – and other members of the team was of particular concern. Some of the email content was described during the call as unhelpful loose chatter, “pub talk”, “stupid” and “bad” (for Shell). The former MI6 agents had been aware that money from the OPL 245 deal would be used to pay bribes.

Furthermore, there is documentary evidence that top Shell executives approved the OPL 245 deal despite being aware the proceeds would end up at a front company connected to Dan Etete. At one point Simon Henry had personally approved the structure of the OPL 245 deal. Senior Shell executives were fully aware that Etete was a convicted money launderer. Van Beurden was not involved at that time.

What Ben van Beurden and Simon Henry did not know is that their telephone conversation arising from the raid, when sensitive OPL 245 matters were discussed, including the involvement of the former MI6 agents, was secretly recorded by investigative authorities.

Mr. Van Beurden is heard on the intercept warning Henry not to volunteer any information that is not requested if approached by the police and discussing the ramifications for the company’s share price. (Extract from Premium Times article below)

Perhaps the latest revelations may have a bearing on the early, unexpected and controversial departure of Simon Henry from Shell.



What Shell CEO Told Colleague About $1.3 Billion OPL 245 Scandal: PREMIUM TIMES ARTICLE

Shell Executives’ Call Offers Inside Look at Bribery Probe: WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE

EXTRACTS: Recorded conversation reveals Anglo-Dutch giant worried Nigerian oil deal could expose it to U.S. investigation

Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s top executives last year were worried that a controversial Nigerian oil deal may have violated a U.S. Justice Department agreement with the Anglo-Dutch oil giant and would spark an American probe, according to a recorded phone call between the firm’s chief executive and top finance officer at the time.

The company is already under investigation in Italy, Nigeria and the Netherlands for a $1.3 billion deal in 2011 with Italian oil firm Eni SpA and the Nigerian government for a lucrative Atlantic…

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