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Investigation into Shell’s shadowy entanglement with the Dutch government

We are going to investigate Shell’s entanglement with the Dutch government.


A group of journalists have launched a mass freedom of information campaign in an attempt to chart Shell’s political influence in the Netherlands.

Requests have been submitted to 17 government institutions – nine ministries, three provincial administrations and five municipalities – asking for all documents originating form or relating to the oil company.

The Platform Authentieke Journalistiek (PAJ) submitted the requests in association with investigative website Follow The Money (FTM), which will publish the results on its website as the Shell Papers.

It has set up a dashboard where the documents will be uploaded in full as they come in and which allows readers to track the progress of all requests for information made under the freedom of information law or wet openbaarheid van bestuur (WOB).

On its website, FTM said it wanted to establish ‘the influence of Shell on Dutch public administration regarding, for example, economic, financial, international, environment and even education policy’.

The PAJ defines itself as a co-operative association of young researchers who aim to collate and publish information ‘which contributes to the political struggle of people who are affected by exclusion, exploitation and other forms of injustice’.


FTM and PAJ launch new research file: the Shell Papers

We are going to investigate Shell’s entanglement with the Dutch government.

The significance of Shell for the Dutch economy and society is hard to overestimate.

Since its foundation at the end of the 19th century, the company has had close ties with the Dutch government. Both the Netherlands and Shell shareholders have benefited from this.

But that intertwining has shadow sides. Platform Authentieke Journalistiek (PAJ) is going to do research for FTM on this.

The plea: 17 Wob requests. PAJ requests all documents – including e-mails, memos, policy documents and even WhatsAppjes – that contain communication originating from, directed to or about Shell, from 2005.

Follow the process closely

Normally we only publish when the journalistic work is completed. This time we do that immediately when the first spade goes into the ground: the entire Wob procedure can be followed via a special dashboard.

From now on you can follow the progress of the process closely.

A Wob request is a request for inspection or a copy of government documents that invokes the Open Government Act (the Wob).

The Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wob) is a major right, and we consider transparency about the relationship between Shell and the government of great social importance

The shortest possible Wob is one in which no objection is made. Then an authority has 8 weeks to meet the request. If an objection is filed, an additional 18 weeks are added, for an appeal another 39 to 52 weeks and the same applies to an appeal. This is the legal Wob term.

Follow the Shell Papers

Stay informed of the entire process. Follow the file and we will keep you informed.

Follow this file

We are going to dig further!

Eric Smit and Arne van der Wal
Founders Follow the Money

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