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OPL 245: looks like a bribe, smells like a bribe, had the effect of a bribe

Shell Blog Latest on Wed, 05:43 pm 08 July 2020

Bogus Group: Geert Vermeulen (Ethics & Compliance Officer) posted an article on Linkedin about the Shell OPL 45 debacle and all that surrounds it. This was a response to the article by Adam Bennett:

Geert, very easy to pass judgments without knowing full facts and in hindsight. Having previously led the business integrity department at Shell I can tell you things in Nigeria are never that clear cut. One thing I remain certain of is the moral compass of shells leadership.

Can’t be the same moral compass most of us are certain of.

POSTING ON SHELL BLOG ENDS

Information extracted from the relevant linkedin.com page

Interesting chat about the OPL 245 bribery scandal. Includes comment from a business ethics professor who is apparently “passionate about the dark side of the force”. Must be a reference to Shell. 

Malabu Oil Deal: Eni, Shell Aware Of Bribes In Nigeria Case–Italian Prosecutor

• 3rd+
CEO at ECMC | Teacher | Trainer | Speaker | Consultant | Interim Ethics & Compliance Officer
20 hours ago
Yes, surely Royal Dutch #Shell and #ENI were aware that the main beneficiaries of the USD 1.3 billion that they paid to the Nigerian government to acquire the OPL245 oil field would be former politicians like Dan Etete and his conspirators. It looks like a bribe, it smells like a bribe, it had the effect of a bribe, but according to Shell and ENI they just paid a fair price to the Nigerian government. Let’s see how the Italian court wil judge the case. It is quite intriguing: can a national government be a third party through which a bribe payment is funneled according to Italian law? And I predict: after the judgment at least half of the parties involved will appeal and the case will drag on through the Italian courts until anybody who is ultimately found guilty, if any, will either have died or be redeemed because of old age….(hello Mr. Berlusconi). It continues to be smart lawyering but questionable #ethical behavior. And I wonder, as Shell is writing off some USD 22 billion in assets at the moment anyway, can’t they just take the hit, write this one off as well and do the right thing, in accordance with their Code of #Ethics and their General Business Principles? #anticorruption

Geert, very easy to pass judgments without knowing full facts and in hindsight. Having previously led the business integrity department at Shell I can tell you things in Nigeria are never that clear cut. One thing I remain certain of is the moral compass of shells leadership.

One cannot argue with previous violations by Shell and Eni in Nigeria so the “moral compass of Shell’s leadership” when it comes to doing business in Nigeria is not true to form. Your statement, “I can tell you things are never that clear cut in Nigeria”, speaks for itself.

If payments to the government itself are suspect, then how can anyone set up any business in these jurisdictions while meeting your ethical standards, Geert? If there was no upfront payment at all, the proceeds from oil sales might also flow to corrupt politicians. Even regular taxes paid in those jurisdictions might end up in politicians pockets. Surely we could avoid doing business with Nigeria altogether, to try to have a clean conscience, but excluding Nigeria from international trade will certainly not benefit the Nigerian people. Imposing what may seem like high ethical standards might actually damage the interests of the Nigerian people instead of protecting them. What would your guidance be for anyone trying to walk this fine line?

Geert, wouldn’t that implicate that you could not do any business with the governments of 20 procent of the countries on the Basel AML index? Would that be an alternative? It is not a perfect world

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