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The murder of a Shell exec investigating corruption

The murder of a Shell exec investigating corruption

By John Donovan

In November 2003, Shell executive Todd Staheli was murdered along with his wife Michelle whilst he was in Brazil investigating a corruption scheme involving Petrobras and hundreds of millions of dollars paid in kickbacks and bribes. Shell was losing millions of dollars in joint ventures with Petrobras. 

In January 2006 we received an email from a close relative of Todd Staheli asking us whether Shell was involved in his murder. 

Our redacted response on 25 Jan 2006 (after making inquiries with Shell sources):

I am extremely sorry to learn about the murder of your xxxxxxxxx.  I had not previously heard anything about this terrible event. As a result of your email I have found and read some of the news reports on the internet.

I do know that a private spy firm said to be a front for British Intelligence (MI6) shared common directors and shareholders with Shell Transport and Trading Company Plc. I also know that Shell has admitted its involvement in certain undercover activities involving the relevant spy firm which were directed against perceived enemies of Shell. I have no idea if any of this has the slightest relevance to the murder of your xxxxxxxxx.

I would have thought it highly unlikely unless you have any information which suggests to the contrary. In that event, I would tell you more about what I know in relation to Shell’s undercover activities. I repeat that it seems most unlikely that it could have any relevance whatsoever to the murder of your brother.

However, if you should ever want to contact Shell employees through the medium of our website to make an appeal for any information, we would happily publish it for you.

Yours sincerely


We received a response the same day. 

On March 6, 2006, we published a related article: AP Worldstream: Brazilian judge convicts handyman in killing of US couple

The Daily Mail has just published an article about the latest developments in the astonishing story. 

Utah siblings sue oil giant for ‘orchestrating the 2003 killing of their mother and Shell exec father to cover up a multi-million dollar corruption scheme’

The oil giant being sued is Petrobras.

In this case, it was Petrobras handing out the bribes, not Shell.

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