Leaked Emails Involving Senior Shell Security Managers

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By John Donovan

I have published several articles over the years naming many Shell senior security people. They include the MI6 hires referred to by Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden in a wiretapped telephone conversation relating to the OPL 245 corruption case. 

Some of their names have come up in leaked emails that have recently appeared on the Internet. I have combined the various emails into a single document.

The email participants include a former senior British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officer, Ian Forbes McCredie who until December 2010, was VP Corporate Affairs Security, Shell International B.V.  Mr McCredie is closely associated with the private spy firm Hakluyt sometimes described as the commercial offshoot of MI6. When I sent an email to Mr McCredie at Shell, I received an automated response giving me his Hakluyt email address.

Another name which cropped up in the leaked emails was that of a retired senior FBI official, Mr Richard T. Garcia, Global Security Manager, Corporate Affairs Security (CAS) Shell Oil Company.

The leaked emails confirm the job titles of the above, and other senior Shell security managers, past and possibly present. They also provide a peep into the shadowy world of Shell’s hired spooks and their activities in hot spots including Iraq and Nigeria.

The emails happen to reflect favourably on these gentlemen and the collective decency and concern they displayed towards a then troubled colleague, Gene Sticco, Global Security Manager Shell Gas and Power, a former intelligence specialist in the US Airforce.

Mr Sticco suffered from PTSD as a result of certain stressful experiences partly while employed by Shell. I brought the emails to his attention to confirm authenticity.

Mr Sticco courageously offered the following comments which tell his story more eloquently than I could ever hope to do and may help others, including Shell employees and contractors working in stressful and/or dangerous circumstances.

Mr Sticco expresses his thanks to his former colleagues at Shell for their support. He was less impressed by the reaction of corporate Shell to his work-related ill-health.

His comments are followed by extracts from a 2018 UK Appeal Court Judgment in which information to which he testified under oath about Shell is quoted many times.

As can be seen from the extracts, the Judgment pays tribute to the credibility of his evidence.

COMMENTS BY GENE STICCO

“While it’s unfortunate that information of a personal medical nature would be leaked into the public domain, I make no secret of the devastating period I was in at the time I confided in my friend. It is comforting to know that as a friend and colleague he was concerned enough to share it with others who I was close to at that time. This is a natural reflection of the principles instilled in us in our military careers prior to Shell, and how those carried-over into our civilian careers.

Being a military Veteran who by that period had already been exposed to trauma, it was not until after my time with Shell that a diagnosis of PTSD was made; and with certainty that it was exasperated by the environments I was thrust into during my employment with Shell; including Iraq (where as the other emails show I was under a rocket attack), in Nigeria where not only daily movements need to be heavily guarded because of the day-to-day risks, but also witnessed a violent engagement between MEND and the Nigerian military; and even in the United States responding to the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and witnessing both massive destruction and loss of human life, I even recall on the drive back to Houston from New Orleans having to stop the vehicle in tears. I would often ask within Shell about how they were or planned to manage the psychological impacts of employees exposed to these environments and was told to simply seek medical care as provided for by my insurance. Even when protesting during one period of concerns for my own safety when traveling to Nigeria and that I did not feel confident in the security arrangement, I was told that refusal would jeopardize both my long-term and immediate future. Ultimately, my leaving Shell was in large part because of the need to remove myself from those environments.

During the period in question I had taken on a new position, but still related to the oil and gas industry and particularly Shell. The position was supposed to be focused on the United States, but I was under increasing pressure to become involved in affairs in Nigeria and Iraq. I was under the care of both the US Veteran Administration doctors and a civilian provider who not effectively communicating regarding prescriptions which added to an imbalance of my emotions.

Eventually I experienced a “meltdown” as I characterized it at the time and sought hospitalization. While I made several attempts to communicate with Shell or find attorneys willing to assist in my effort to hold Shell accountable for failing to manage the psychological risks of sending employees to such environments, the only recourse I was advised that I had would have been to file a workers injury/compensation claim at the time. This is most unfortunate as the effects of trauma can take years to manifest, and this is but one more time which Shell’s own principles and practices have allowed them to escape culpability through loopholes and corporate veils.

While it took a period of time to recover, I am happy to say that with proper care and the love and support of friends like the one who sent that email, I overcame the obstacles before me at that time and have moved on to enjoy both day-to-day life with my family. Through open discussions about that period and in recognizing that the impact of those traumas do not ever fully leave but must be managed with the help of everyone around me, I simply say that I am happy, I am safe, and I am grateful for the people in my life who cared enough to do something as simple as send an email about my well being; and I would encourage ANYONE who thinks a friend or loved one is not well to do the same. Thank you for the opportunity to comment, Gene”

Case No: A1/2017/0407 and 0406 IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION) Date: 14 February 2018

Before: SIR GEOFFREY VOS, CHANCELLOR OF THE HIGH COURT LORD JUSTICE SALES and LORD JUSTICE SIMON.

EXTRACTS

(1) Royal Dutch Shell Plc (2) Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd

The claimants in these two actions seek damages arising as a result of serious, and ongoing, pollution and environmental damage caused by leaks of oil from pipelines and associated infrastructure in and around the Niger Delta for which, they contend, the 1st defendant (‘RDS’) and the 2nd defendant (‘SPDC’) are responsible.

Gene Sticco (8#81) was employed by the Shell Group between 2003-2009, primarily dealing with corporate affairs. His evidence was that, although Shell was made up of multiple entities, the direction for them all was based on streamlined processes, ‘with the ultimate direction coming from [ExCo]’, and a requirement that all the companies within the Shell Group adopt mandatory universal standards. According to his evidence it was the role of Regional Managers to ensure that Shell’s global standards were implemented; and that the relevant Regional Manager responsible for Nigeria ‘unusually, had a direct link to Malcolm Brinded, the [ExCo] member for [Exploration and Production]’.

18. The special treatment granted to this Regional Manager was because SPDC was seen as a particularly risky country (sic) and so attracted particular attention from Malcolm Brinded.

Mr Sticco’s evidence is that while he was working for the Shell group, ExCo considered Nigeria and Iraq to be the highest risk countries in the group portfolio, so that they were seen as a priority for the corporate affairs department, where he worked.

In that regard, the claimants point to other materials which also support Mr Sticco’s general account. In the Shell Sustainability Report for 2014, the losses due to oil spillage in Nigeria were singled out in the table of Environmental data on account of their volume compared to the rest of the world. This equated to major revenue losses for the Shell group and major reputational damage for it, as evidenced by the UN Environment Programme report documenting the serious pollution in the Niger Delta.

In terms of the credibility of their evidence, and in particular that of Mr Sticco, I also attach significance to the way in which his general account has been corroborated by the two important internal documents which emerged late in the day, after his witness statement was prepared: the Shell Control Framework and the HSSE & SP Control Framework. By contrast, the witnesses deployed by RDS to explain the operational workings of the Shell Group and SPDC did not deal with these documents and did not explain clearly and with precision how the management structures described in those documents were in practice implemented by ExCo and were in practice taken into account by SPDC. In my judgment, the evidence filed by RDS does not answer or dispel what appears to me to be a valid claim, to the good arguable case standard, put forward by the claimants.

EXTRACTS END

As can be seen in the Approved Judgment from which the above extracts have been taken, the Court of Appeal Judges dismissed the case against Shell on the grounds that the plaintiffs “failed to show an arguable case that they will establish the necessary proximity at trial to support a claim that RDS owed the claimants a direct duty of care.”

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