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Shell Legal Director Donny Ching, asks staff not to speculate about first verdicts in OPL 245 corruption trials 

Shell Legal Director Donny Ching (above) effectively outlaws internal discussion among Shell staff of the first chilling verdicts in the OPL 245 trial.

It is a heavyweight ask directed at all Shell staff, effectively outlawing internal discussion of the OPL 245 litigation, when the ask in question comes from the Legal Director and board member of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Who would dare, under the circumstances, to discuss such a self-evidently taboo subject with colleagues? 

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By John Donovan

Printed below is a leaked Shell internal memo sent to all Shell staff by Donny Ching, Legal Director of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

It provides proof of the understandable great sensitivity attached to the criminal trials in Milan Italy stemming from the Nigerian OPL 245 corruption scandal.

The two middlemen defendants in the fast-track OPL 245 trial cited by Mr Ching have already been found guilty and sent to jail for four years.

In his message to all Shell staff, Mr Ching asks them not to engage in speculation on the verdicts on middlemen Emeka Obi and Gianluca di Nardo and how they might relate to the trial involving Shell and four of Shell’s “former employees.” Two of them being former MI6 people hired by Shell, as confirmed by RDS CEO Ben van Beurden.

It is a heavyweight ask directed at all Shell staff, effectively outlawing internal discussion of the OPL 245 litigation, when the ask in question comes from the Legal Director and board member of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Who would dare, under the circumstances, to discuss such a self-evidently taboo subject with colleagues? 

I note that Malcolm Brinded, once a Royal Dutch Shell Chairman and Managing Director and still, astonishingly, President of the Energy Institute, has been downgraded by Mr Ching to being merely a former Shell employee.

Shell has already admitted negotiating the OPL 245 oil deal with convicted money launderer Dan Etete, but continues to defend its position, as stated by Mr Ching.

THE WHOLE MEMO TEXT (the red text is by John Donovan)

Update to all staff from Donny Ching on OPL 245

  • By Ching, Donny KT RDS-ECDC Legal Director
  • 20 Sep 2018 18:46

Over the past year, I have provided updates to you regarding the allegations that have been made about Shell’s involvement in Oil Prospecting License 245 (OPL 245) in Nigeria. In December 2017, Shell and four former employees were ordered to stand trial in Italy, which is now underway in Milan.   

As I have said before, based on our review of the evidence available to us, we maintain there is no basis on which to convict Shell or its former employees. We will vigorously defend our position and believe that the trial judges will conclude that there is no case for us to answer. 

You may have seen coverage this week of a ruling in another trial proceeding that does not relate directly to Shell. This concerns the fast-track trial of two other defendants, Emeka Obi and Gianluca di Nardo, who were found guilty by an Italian judge. 

I would like to be clear that neither individual worked on behalf of Shell and Shell was not a party to their fast-track trial. At this point, it is difficult to read anything into this verdict as far as the outcome of the trial in Milan involving Shell and its former employees is concerned.  I would therefore ask you not to engage in speculation on this. 

We do not yet know how long the trial will last but expect this to be many months, continuing into next year. We expect to see continued, often critical, media coverage around this issue. As a result, I appreciate that you may find yourself having to respond to questions from relatives and friends. You can find more information about the case, which may also help with those discussions, on the OPL 245 intranet web page. If you receive questions from external media, or NGOs, please refer these to Andy Norman or Anna Haslam in the Group Media team. 

Shell attaches the greatest importance to business integrity, so please let me assure you that we continue to take this matter seriously. 

Donny Ching

Legal Director

ENDS

ACTUAL MESSAGE

RELATED ARTICLES

Ron Bousso: OCTOBER 11, 2018 / 11:56 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.AS) expects a landmark corruption trial over a Nigerian oil deal to last many months, warning staff of continued critical media coverage in the $1.3 billion case, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Shell’s Legal Director Donny Ching encouraged employees to study an internal web page that the Anglo-Dutch company set up for the case before responding to questions from relatives and friends.

Shell and Italian peer Eni ENI.M are defendants in a Milan bribery trial, now in its early stages, focusing on the 2011 purchase of Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield for about $1.3 billion.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and four ex-Shell managers, including former Shell Foundation Chairman Malcolm Brinded, are also on trial in one of the largest cases in the history of the oil and gas industry. All the accused have denied wrongdoing.

Milan prosecutors allege bribes were paid to win the licence to explore the field which, because of disputes, has never entered into production.

“We do not yet know how long the trial will last but expect this to be many months, continuing into next year,” Ching said in the Sept. 20 memo, provided to Reuters by John Donovan, who runs the independent royaldutchshellplc.com website.

The website often serves as a forum to criticise the oil major.

A Shell spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the document.

“We expect to see continued, often critical, media coverage around this issue,” the memo addressed to all Shell staff said.

“As a result, I appreciate that you may find yourself having to respond to questions from relatives and friends. You can find more information about the case, which may also help with those discussions, on the OPL 245 intranet web page.”

“Based on our review of the evidence available to us, we maintain there is no basis on which to convict Shell or its former employees. We will vigorously defend our position and believe that the trial judges will conclude that there is no case for us to answer,” Ching wrote.

The Anglo-Dutch company also said that it was unclear if the conviction of two men over corruption in the deal in a separate case in Italy last month would have any impact on the larger case.

Shell distanced itself from the two men — Nigerian Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo — who were found guilty of international corruption and each given four-year jail sentences.

“I would like to be clear that neither individual worked on behalf of Shell and Shell was not a party to their fast-track trial,” Ching said.

“At this point, it is difficult to read anything into this verdict as far as the outcome of the trial in Milan involving Shell and its former employees is concerned,” the memo said.

“I would therefore ask you not to engage in speculation on this.”

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, shellnews.net and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan

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