Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

More analysis of wiretapped BvB/Simon Henry phone call

By Bill Campbell (Retired HSE Group Auditor Shell International)

I have read through the Ben van Beurden/Simon Henry phone transcript but frankly cannot understand the apparently relaxed attitude, with many chuckles and laughter on the phone.

It seems clear also that RDS had been or were still pursuing some kind of internal investigation into the matter.

They raised but then thought lightly it would seem, of the emails that are incriminating, as though these did not involve their own employees whether direct or indirect, ex MI6 etc.

When you cut it down to the basics this was at all times a closed deal carried out in a clandestine fashion, no competitive tendering took place which by Shell procedures and Nigerian law it should have. Also, the repeated acknowledgement by various parties that payouts had or would be expected to be paid to clinch the secret deal seems irrefutable unless the emails are fake which they are clearly not?

Anyway, I am not a lawyer thankfully but my gut reaction to what I read is that is many times worse for the reputation of RDS than the reserves fiasco ever was if it does lead to a successful prosecution.

Perhaps this is why simple Simon flew from the nest so abruptly.

It is possible, nay likely that no ENI or Shell employee benefitted personally monetarily at least, this may be their defence, but that is not material in law.  As I wrote previously if you were party to or had previous knowledge that a criminal offence involving fraud and embezzlement by others was likely to take place to secure your goal in what was a closed and clandestine non-competitive deal, then your complicity makes you an accessory to that offence.

To quote wording from the Principles espoused by RDS where was the openness, honesty and integrity in the OPL 245 deal which started as a process only 4 years after the reserves fiasco follow up promised that it would never happen again? These values including respect for people were to be, to quote Malcolm Brinded, at the core of everything the new model of Shell would do in business going forward in a bright, unblemished future.  So were assured its employees, shareholders, stakeholders and the City.

Comment by John Donovan


It was an odd conversation. Why did BvB want to get away from the nanny? What was that all about? Bill’s comments are more accurate than mine when I described the tapped conversation as being panicked. However, I suspect the chuckles and laughter were of the nervous kind but will have to actually hear the conversation to arrive at a more accurate assessment.


Ben van Beurden came unstuck by saying that “people” Shell hired from MI6 were involved. As far as I can see thus far, this was not known until he mentioned this fact to Simon Henry not knowing he was being wiretapped by the police.


If Ben van Beurden had any respect for Shell’s claimed business principles he would have instructed Henry to cooperate with the police by giving them any evidence that might be material. The transcript reveals that his instructions were exactly the opposite. The cover-up mentality took over.


Reference is made to a Shell internal investigation of OPL 245. If that involved the not worth a shit business integrity “fuckers” so memorably described by Shell Oil Boss Bruce Culpepper, no one is likely to have much confidence in their findings.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Rules

  • Please show respect to the opinions of others no matter how seemingly far-fetched.
  • Abusive, foul language, and/or divisive comments may be deleted without notice.
  • Each blog member is allowed limited comments, as displayed above the comment box.
  • Comments must be limited to the number of words displayed above the comment box.
  • Please limit one comment after any comment posted per post.