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Shell probing claims of unethical freight dealings in Singapore, say sources

Singapore (Platts)–12 Dec 2017 202 am EST/702 GMT

Global energy major Shell is investigating claims of unethical dealings including charges of corruption in its tanker chartering team in Singapore and at least one employee has been asked to take leave pending further investigation, sources familiar with the developments have told S&P Global Platts.

It all started a few weeks ago when one member of the chartering team, acting as a whistleblower, made a complaint against a colleague for allegedly channeling a large part of the chartering business through a specific brokerage for pecuniary gains, sources said.

This triggered an investigation to review the entire chartering business and processes, they said.

The employee in question is on indefinite leave, a company source said. The employee did not return several calls to his handphone. Owners and charterers who deal with the employee on a regular basis said they have also been informed that he is on indefinite leave.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on personnel matters,” a Shell spokesperson told Platts.

Shell is one of the largest oil and gas trading companies in the world and at any point of time, there are several ships moving cargoes belonging to the company across the globe.

The company has dozens of tankers either on time charter or taken for spot voyages. When the tankers on time charter are not required to carry Shell’s own cargo, they are relet to other companies. This is done for the purpose of optimal utilization and reduces vessel idle time to a minimum. Shell employs freight traders for the juggling of this vast fleet, including both chartering and the relet of ships.

“All Shell employees are required to comply with our Code of Conduct and to uphold the highest standards of ethical behaviour,” the Shell spokesperson said in an email response to Platts’ queries.

“It will be unfair to comment on his dealings when he has left,” one source tracking the episode said. “Unless charges are proven, he cannot be pronounced guilty,” he added.

“We investigate allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct. Breaches are not tolerated and carry serious consequences,” the Shell spokesperson said in the same email.According to sources familiar with the Shell episode, the role of one particular brokerage house has come into question because it was being allegedly favored by the employee in question without following due procedures.

“We don’t share commercial information about our trading and operations activities,” the Shell spokesperson told Platts in response to a query on whether a tanker brokerage has been blacklisted by Shell.

–Sameer C. Mohindru, [email protected]

–Wanda Wang, [email protected]

–Edited by Wendy Wells, [email protected]

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