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OPL 245: When will Shell CEO Ben van Beurden be forced to resign?

Listen to wire-tapped call implicating Ben van Beurden in OPL 245 corruption cover-up. 

By John Donovan

  • Hear an admission by BvB that Shell had not been open with the U.S. Dept of Justice in regard to a related Shell Nigerian corruption scandal already subject to a 61 page Deferred Prosecution Agreement.
  • Concern expressed by BvB over potential share-price sensitive fallout, rather than the obvious priority of being open with shareholders as pledged in Shell’s claimed business principles. 
  • Express instruction from BvB to Simon Henry at the close of the call: “don’t volunteer any information that is not requested.” How can that be construed other than as potential obstruction of an investigation involving police and the other important authorities BvB mentions. Significantly, Simon Henry did not resist that unethical and perhaps criminal instruction. Even if material evidence was discovered internally at Shell, the unavoidable implication was that its existence should not be disclosed to the police. That order came from the very top. BvB has not made an apology or comment on his instruction. 
  • Inexplicably, both BvB and Simon Henry chuckled at times during the discussion. Perhaps a case of Shell shock at the dawn raid carried out at Shell HQ earlier that day by an army of 60 investigators, which triggered the call?

Listen and read the proof in audio and transcript form confirming current Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden and then CFO colleague Simon Henry have both been infected with the deeply ingrained culture of cover-up adopted by successive Shell executive directors.

At the time of the incriminating wire-tapped telephone conversation in Feb 2016, a police dawn raid had just taken place at RDS HQ in The Hague searching for evidence in relation to the OPL 245 billion dollar Nigerian oil deal corruption scandal.

The raid was carried out by investigators from the Dutch Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service and the Dutch public prosecutor’s office.

The first instinct of BvB and Simon Henry was to discuss whether or not to withhold potentially sensitive information from Shell shareholders, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Dutch police.

The taped call also confirms that Shell hired former MI6 “people” to assist in the billion dollar plus corruption.

Shell has admitted that it knew about the illegal destination of the purloined funds.

BvB and Simon Henry also discussed their former colleague Malcolm Brinded and made an intriguing reference to what might be found by the police in his former office.

There is a clear admittance by BvB that Shell should “maybe” have been more open with the U.S. Dept of Justice in respect of an earlier matter involving a U.S. Depart of Justice deferred prosecution agreement:

At 8:00 mins BvB says to Simon Henry

Well, you know, there’s a few funny things here and maybe we should just disclose it to the DoJ.”Because it all happened at a time we were of course under *deferred prosecution agreement, so, we should have maybe at the time been a more open with the DoJ than we now find we have been.

AT 11.00 mins

Discussion over whether it was necessary to inform the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) with consequential concern that it might trigger “some sort of request to issue a stock exchange release” i.e. information that would reach shareholders – repeated reference to “share-price sensitive”. (Mention of Joe Babits-  a Shell Associate Counsel advising on US Securities) 

At 12.89 mins

The closing instruction from BvB to Simon Henry was that in the event of the police returning: “…don’t volunteer any information that is not requested.” 

The police raid prompted a discussion about what information should have already been disclosed and which, if any authorities, should be notified about the raid. BvB and Simon Henry knew that the event would attract vast media coverage. Discussion of earlier non-disclosure in relation to the DoJ was in reaction to the shock of the police raid. Reference was made by BvB to a crisis team. Was it set up in reaction to the dawn raid, or did it already exist?

Interestingly, BvB is also on tape in relation to the cover-up of the police corruption scandal in Ireland admitted by Shell’s whistleblowing contractor, OSSL, who distributed bribes on behalf of Shell to senior police officers and other parties. Henry has departed with a fabulous deal to keep him onside. When will BvB be forced to resign?


Believed to be this Deferred Prosecution Agreement under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act involving Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd., Shell International Exploration and Production Inc., and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Relates to Shell corruption in Nigeria. The agreement includes STATEMENT OF FACTS about Shell bribery and corruption. Also, see related SEC CEASE & DESIST ORDER.


“Emails published by Global Witness indicate that executives at Shell were informed and had reason to believe or know that part of the payment would go to then-President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as others in Nigeria, as bribes. President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly received between USD 200 million and USD 500 million. Emails also indicate that Shell was aware that the payment would go to Dan Etete. In a phone call recorded in 2016, Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden and then-CFO Simon Henry expressed concern that the deal violated the FCPA.” 

(As indicated above, the “FCPA” is the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)



Shell Bribes Among ‘Culture of Corruption’: Bloomberg 5 November 2010

Royal Dutch Shell hypocrisy on bribery: RoyalDutchShellPlc 5 November 2010

Top 10 settlements under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: The Wall Street Journal 6 November 2010

SHELL IN BRIBERY FINE: Daily Express 6 November 2010

Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Co. Ltd. to pay $30 million criminal fine: 14 November 2010

Shell Bribes Among ‘Culture of Corruption’: 5 November 2010

Nigeria summons Shell, Halliburton execs over graft

Investor Investigation of Royal Dutch Shell $48M Settlement of Foreign Bribery charges: 22 Nov 2010

Royal Dutch Shell, others pay $236M in bribe cases: 4 Nov 2010

Settlements Near In Bribery Case: The Wall Street Journal: 15 October 2010

Royal Dutch Shell bribery and corruption in Nigeria: The Wall Street Journal 16 October 2010

DOJ, SEC To Announce Panalpina-Related Bribery Settlements: NASDAQ: 21 October 2010

U.S. in Pact Over Bribery Charges With Royal Dutch Shell: The Wall Street Journal: 4 November 2010

Panalpina Settlements Announced, With $236.5 Million In Penalties: The Wall Street Journal: 4 November 2010

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

21 Jul 2022 — The Tribunal of Milan in Italy acquitted Shell and four of its former employees of charges related to the OPL 245 block in Nigeria

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  1. TotallyHackedOff says:

    The phonemail sounds staged to me….as part of some broader cover up to sting Malcolm and get BVB off the hook. Send em’ to jail!

  2. Bill Campbell says:

    Audio Tape
    Sound quality fine for BVB, bit muffled for SH, got the impression that this was just all so convenient for the police to arrive when the office was bare of any line executives, and who would have informed them about a the filing cabinet in the Chairmans office, as a non executive, and relatively new to the organisation why look there? unless of course you know what your looking for and where to get it. I would bet the so called forensic internal investigation by is it Donny Ling? may not have access to Malcolm’s treasure drove also, maybe the police hit paydirt giving them more evidence thus confidence that a successful prosecution can be brought – only time will tell, but a faciinating insight into the New Shell. An inside job in my book maybe that’s why SH cashed in his chips early?

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