Shell stole confidential intellectual property from us on several occasions. We sued and Shell settled. The settlements were inevitably surrounded by secrecy and deception designed to prevent embarrassing information from reaching third parties, particularly Shell shareholders.
LITIGATION BETWEEN 1994 AND 1996
Shell tried to keep the court settlements in the pre-Smart litigation secret – see pdf of magazine feature – “High Court papers unveil ‘secret’ Shell writ losses.”
The feature published in April 1998 was spread over several pages of Marketing Week magazine.
Shell settlements with me were inevitably surrounded by secrecy and deception designed to prevent embarrassing information reaching third parties, particularly Shell shareholders.
The first three High Court actions brought by Don Marketing were in respect of short-term promotions. Namely, a rerun of Shell Make Money; a Nintendo Gameboy themed instant win game, and a “Now Showing” movie-themed promotion.
From the outset of the initial litigation, Shell tried to intimidate us.
In a letter dated 27 April 1994 Shell lawyers threatened to make the litigation “drawn out and difficult.” The obvious intent was to drain our financial resources, exploiting the fact that Shell is a multinational Goliath with an army of in-house and external lawyers, supported up by unlimited financial resources.
Related extract from “LETTER FROM LONDON” article by THE AM LAW DAILY published 17 September 2010:
Despite operating with an in-house team that numbers 1,000 staff and 800 lawyers, 50 percent of Shell’s legal budget has been going to external counsel.
If my experience is any guide, Shell lawyers are ready to destroy without mercy, any small company or individual who objects to being trampled on by Shell or its agents.
We, therefore, decided to counter the stonewalling and threats by mounting a campaign against Shell alongside the litigation.
While already engaged in pre-litigation discussion with Shell over the Nintendo Gameboy themed promotion, AJL raised the subject of Shell Make Money and said Shell could run it without us.
I offered to let AJL have sight of the original written agreement between Shell and Don Marketing. He said that he was not interested in seeing it. A transcript of the astonishing phone conversation is available to read.
(Alerted by that time to his predatory nature, I had taken the precaution of recording the pre-litigation telephone conversations.)
Despite assurances from Shell that nothing was going on, I checked with an insider source and discovered that the same printer we had used in 1984 – Dobson & Crowther – was already printing 100 million Shell Make Money game pieces. We had caught AJL red-handed and immediately issued a High Court Writ against Shell seeking an injunction.
Shell was forced to settle our Shell Make Money claim, but the rancour increased after we issued High Court proceedings for the Nintendo Gameboy and “Now Showing” promotions.
When Shell did launch the Make Money game, we discovered that the game pieces were insecure and it was possible to identify and remove all of the winning game pieces.
Shell executives took up our offer to prove that the game was insecure, and therefore, open to exploitation by dishonest forecourt employees. We performed the demonstration in the presence of my solicitor Richard Woodman of Royds (City of London) and a team of Shell lawyers. Shell continued with the promotion despite knowing that the security was hopelessly flawed.
While the subsequent litigation was in progress, I received an invitation from Dr Chis Fay to meet him at Shell-Mex House in London. Dr Fay was at the time Chief Executive and Chairman of Shell UK Limited. I had two meetings with him, the first lasting for nearly two hours. His butler provided refreshments.
Fay offered, and my father and I accepted, a substantial financial package worth £125,000 in the form of a unique Funding Deed.
Shell offered the Funding Deed partly in return for agreeing to file a notice of discontinuance in respect of a High Court libel action my father had brought against Shell and to cease our campaigning activities.
The entire terms set out therein provide an indication of the extensive scope of our activities.
The terms were also designed to also end the activities of The Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group – an organisation founded by us – of which nearly 15% of all Shell retailers in the UK were members. Several hundred participated in “business ethic” surveys about Shell mounted by the Pressure Group, which published the results in whole page notices in the UK forecourt press.
Related media coverage and examples of the leaflets and published survey results can be seen in the screenshot gallery at the end of this chapter.
The first three actions – Shell Make Money, the Nintendo Gameboy concept and the Movie themed promotion, together with the libel action brought by my father, were eventually all settled by Shell out of court.
I also received an unsolicited letter of apology from Dr Fay.
The war between Shell and my family, as described in the City Diary article published by The Times in 2007, was also fought in the libel courts.
The first defamation action was the aforementioned case brought in my fathers’ name. It resulted from an extraordinary press statement issued by Shell UK Media Relations on 17 March 1995.
We wrote to the then Managing Director of Shell UK Limited, Mr David Varney, giving Shell the opportunity to retract. Our ultimatum and its rejection by Shell was recorded for posterity in a news article published by Forecourt Trader the following month, April 1995.
Extracts from the article:
Shell has broken its vow of silence and issued a strongly-worded statement to defend itself against what it sees as “the growing number of untrue and often offensive allegations being made by Don Marketing”.
Don Marketing also alleges that it plans to produce a book, and has sent a questionnaire to Shell sites in the UK attempting to assemble negative views of Shell. Shell believes these actions are an attempt to sully its reputation with sensationalist allegations in the hope the company will be forced into settling false claims.”
Don Marketing has faxed Shell md David Varney giving him “seven days to retract certain defamatory claims within the statement after which,” said John Donovan, “we will issue libel proceedings”. Shell’s response is steadfast: “What we said is true and accurate.”
A number of news articles were published in relation to the libel proceedings against Shell.
Marketing Week 31 March 1994: Shell faces libel threat from Don
Marketing Magazine 20 April 1995: Don Marketing founder Alfred Donovan has issued a libel writ against Shell UK.
Marketing Week 21 April 1995: Shell faces libel action as Don’s founder issues writ
Promotions & Incentives May 1995: Donovan issues Shell libel writ
Forecourt News April 1995: Don Marketing has issued a writ for libel against Shell
Marketing 25 May 1995: Shell has confirmed that its senior management will hold talks with Don Marketing
Shell has confirmed that its senior management will hold talks with Don Marketing to resolve legal actions between the two. Don has issued a libel writ, a high-court action and a small-claims case against Shell in a two-year struggle over two disputed promotions.
Shell settled the libel action in the overall financial transaction worth £125,000 I have already mentioned.
In April 1998, we issued further libel proceedings against Shell, this time in my name. The lawsuit was in respect of a Shell press release relating to the subsequent Shell SMART loyalty card litigation.
The story was covered in a Marketing Magazine article published 30 April 1998 under the headline:
Donovan brings new Shell writ
John Donovan, the sales promotion agency managing director who is suing Shell for copyright infringement over its Smart Card loyalty scheme, has served another writ on the oil company, this time for libel.
Donovan, whose agency, Don Marketing, has already brought three copyright actions against Shell, is suing over a press statement the oil firm released in response to his latest copyright writ.
Shell responded to the writ, served two weeks ago, by saying it was satisfied that “the claim … is entirely without substance”.
Donovan says that this implies he is bringing a claim which is “wholly bogus and false”. The libel writ claims damages on the basis that Donovan’s reputation has been gravely damaged and that he has “suffered acute anxiety and distress”.
A spokeswoman for Shell said: “All we have done is defend our position when publicly attacked by Don Marketing.”
Marketing Week published an article the same day, 30 April 1998, mentioning the second writ in relation to the Smart scheme, which was issued on Friday 24 April 1998:
Don Marketing has issued the writ over the disputed idea dating back to 1989, together with a further writ, issued last Friday, claiming that its managing director John Donovan has been defamed in a Shell press statement (MW April 16 and 23).
Don Marketing’s second writ alleges that last week a Shell press statement defamed Donovan. It seeks damages and an injunction to prevent Shell from making further claims about him.
A LETTER FROM ME PUBLISHED BY MARKETING WEEK MAGAZINE ON 21 MAY 1998 REFERRED TO THE LIBEL ACTION
Headline to Letter
Shell: Don is more than ‘disgruntled’
Extracts from the content
The multimillion pound claim in respect of the Smart consortium concept operated by Shell in the UK and in several other countries is not our first High Court action against Shell UK. It is the fourth. All involve breach of confidence and/or breach of contract. All involve the same Shell UK national promotions manager. It has been going on for five drawn out years.
I also want to set the record straight regarding a statement issued by Shell UK on or around April 21 1998 in which it gave the impression that I am a vexatious litigant, who issues High Court actions in respect of bogus claims. In fact, Shell has already settled the first three actions in our favour.
I even received an unsolicited letter of apology from Dr Fay, the chairman of Shell UK, admitting that its dealings with us did not meet “the high standards we set ourselves and which our long relationship had led you to expect of us”. I have now issued libel proceedings against Shell UK for defamation in regard to its press statement.
As Shell is well aware, we were not the only sales promotion agency which complained to Shell UK about the business practices of the relevant manager. Even its retained promotions agency eventually refused to disclose confidential information in his presence. We are, however, the only agency which has been brave enough (or foolish enough) to take on one of the world’s leading multi-national Goliaths.
My attention was first drawn to the libellous Shell press statement by Rachel Oldroyd, a reporter from the Financial Mail On Sunday who published an article on 19 April 1998.
Her interest was probably triggered by an article published a few days earlier – on the front page and page 5 of Marketing Week Magazine, 16 April 1998: ”Shell faces High Court battle over Smart Card.”
A Daily Telegraph article published on 11 June 1998, also referred to the libel action: “Donovan’s beef with Shell on-line”
Donovan is alleging a breach of confidence and breach of contract and has also filed a separate writ for libel.
Shell applied to the High Court to have the libel action struck off on the grounds that the comments in the statement of 21 April 1998 were not defamatory.
The application was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice Eady, the well-known libel/privacy Judge. He rejected Shell’s application and made Shell pay substantial legal costs.
The case was one of those later settled by Shell, with Shell paying all of my legal costs for the Smart litigation and the related libel action. I also received a secret payment.
In 2011, I published a related article: “Fond memories of Mr Justice Eady, the privacy law judge”
On 18th April 1998 I was surprised to learn from Rachel Oldroyd, a reporter from the Financial Mail On Sunday, that Shell had issued a press statement that clearly inferred that previous claims I had brought against the oil giant were bogus, thus repeating a libel of March 1995, which Shell had already settled at some considerable cost to Shell shareholders.
The following day, the Mail On Sunday published a report written by Rachel actually quoting from the Shell press statement. Shell issued a further libelous press statement on 25th April 1998 and then on 27th April 1998, capped it all by circulating a letter to its service station network containing a further libel. A trade magazine subsequently published an article relying on the information in Shell’s press statements. Also in April 1998, Shell had circulated a libelous statement about us to Shell staff.
What Shell had not anticipated is that we would get our hands on the offending materials. Friendly publications and Shell petrol station managers had been happy to supply us with copies, so that we had an astonishing array of hard evidence against Shell.
The Smart libel action and the related unsuccessful striking off application by Shell was also covered in a variety of other publications.
e.g. an article published 30 July 1998 by Marketing Week Magazine
Don Marketing, the sales promotion agency, is claiming a victory against Shell UK in the first round of a libel case against the oil giant.
Shell UK was ordered to pay costs for a preliminary hearing at the High Court which took place earlier this week. The libel case will be heard before a jury and Don Marketing will have the power to subpoena top Shell UK management, including chairman Chris Fay, to give evidence.
Also, an article published by Loyalty Magazine under the headline: “McShell” case continues (screenshot on far left)
His company, sales promotion agency Don Marketing is claiming a first round victory against Shell UK in a libel case already being dubbed “McShell,” because of its David and Goliath-style similarities to the “Mclibel” case.
And an article published by Incentive Today Magazine, September 1998 edition, under the headline: “Shell smacked over libel action”
The legal wrangle between John Donovan and Shell UK continues with Donovan claiming victory in the first round.
In response to the writ Shell issued the press statement to Incentive Today which was printed in the May edition. Donovan immediately issued a writ for libel on the grounds that the statement implies that previous claims that he has made against Shell were without merit and that the Smart claim is bogus.
Shell attempted to have the writ struck off in a High Court hearing in July but failed and was ordered to pay costs.
On 23 September 1998, Shell made an unprecedented move to counter our lawful campaigning activities.
Shell put posters on public display at the Shell Centre in London, specifically targeting my father and me. We were the sole topic. I have never heard of a multinational corporation doing anything like this before or since.
Printed below is the content of the related leaflets distributed for or by Shell.
YOU MAY BE HANDED A LEAFLET OUTSIDE SHELL CENTRE BY MR ALFRED DONOVAN, FORMALLY OF A COMPANY CALLED DON MARKETING UK LIMITED.
YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT JOHN DONOVAN, A DIRECTOR OF DON MARKETING UK LIMITED, MR ALFRED DONOVAN’S SON, HAS ISSUED A WRIT AGAINST SHELL UK CLAIMING THAT HIS COMPANY INVENTED THE SMART LOYALTY CARD PROGRAMME.
MR DONOVAN’S ALLEGATIONS HAVE BEEN VERY CAREFULLY INVESTIGATED BY SHELL UK AND DISCUSSED IN DETAIL WITH MR DONOVAN AND HIS SOLICITORS. THE CLAIM IS BEING VIGOROUSLY DEFENDED.
AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW, MR DONOVAN HAS MADE SOME OFFENSIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT SHELL UK COLLEAGUES. WE REJECT SUCH ALLEGATIONS ABSOLUTELY AND ARE WHOLLY CONFIDENT THAT OUR COLLEAGUES HAVE ACTED IN THIS MATTER AT ALL TIMES IN GOOD FAITH AND IN LINE WITH OUR LONG STANDING BUSINESS PRINCIPLES.
23RD SEPTEMBER 1998 PXX COMMUNICATIONS
ANOTHER DEFAMATORY SHELL PRESS RELEASE
A further press release issued by Shell in November 1998 contained defamatory allegations about me.
The same allegations were also repeated in a Shell internal magazine article under the headline: “DEFENDING THE COMPANY’S GOOD NAME AND REPUTATION.” The article was authored by Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman. I was accused of being dishonourable and of smearing a Shell employee.
It was only as a result of a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act that I found out many years after the trial about these additional publications of allegations by Shell. These materially important items of evidence had not been disclosed in the discovery process.
SHELL DEFAMATION PROCEEDINGS INVOLVING OUR WEBSITE
In June 2004, we published information supplied to us by Dr John Huong, a Shell Malaysia Production Geologist who had worked for the company for decades. He was probably the first Shell employee to blow the whistle internally on the Shell reserves fraud, described on BBC TV as the biggest fraud in history.
I put Dr Huong into contact with the New York lawyers acting for the lead plaintiffs in a related Shell shareholder class action in which our website played an important facilitating role.
Shell’s response to the information published on our website in his name was draconian.
Eight Royal Dutch Shell Group companies collectively obtained an Interim Injunction and Restraining Order against Dr Huong in the Malaysian High Court alleging the postings on our website amounted to defamation. Additional proceedings against him were issued by the same Shell plaintiff companies in 2006 in respect of further publications on our website.
The additional proceedings included a “Notice to Show Cause” relating to a “contempt of court” action potentially punishable by imprisonment.
Dr Huong claimed that Shell engaged in dirty tricks, threats, and surveillance operations against him and his family. Suffice it to say that he felt sufficiently concerned for his own safety that he resorted to using bodyguards.
The entire litigation, in progress for several years, was eventually settled by Shell out of court.
Overall, Shell had about as much success in the defamation courts as it did in respect of the IP theft litigation and more recent domain name proceedings: none at all.
Dr Huong was not the only former employee of Shell Malaysia that we were in contact with. We also published articles about a group of 399 former Shell Malaysia employees known as “Team A” (see centre screenshot below). They successfully sued Shell for alleged misuse of their pension funds, but the decision was reversed on appeal after Shell exploited a time-limit loophole.
THE SHELL SMART BREACH OF CONFIDENCE LITIGATION 1997 TO 1999
Marketing Magazine article 10 November 1994
In 1997, I confronted Shell about their launch in the UK of the SHELL SMART multi-brand loyalty card. This was long before the advent of the similar NECTOR scheme in the UK. Nearly twenty years later variations of the concept are still being run by Shell in numerous countries.
I devised the original concept and had disclosed the idea to Shell (via AJL) in strictest confidence.
Since it was a long-term promotion, which could be introduced into many countries, the Shell SMART case was by far the most important High Court action in terms of potential damages.
I also placed prominent announcements in various marketing and gasoline trade magazines directed at potential partners in the Shell SMART scheme, threatening to bring legal proceedings against them.
The announcements themselves became the subject of media coverage.
Article published by Marketing Week 26 May 1998 (Scroll down the linked pages to see examples of published warning notices):
Don Marketing posts warning about Shell
Don Marketing, the sales promotion agency alleging Shell breached copyright on the idea it used to create the Shell Smart card scheme, has placed an advertisement in this week’s Marketing Week warning businesses they may face legal action if they join the scheme.
Under the headline “Shell Smart Legal Notice”, the ad sets out the details of the court case and warns potential partners that participation in the scheme “may involve an infringement of rights, rendering it liable to legal action”.
Don Marketing Managing Director John Donovan has been forced by Shell’s legal department to revise a letter he planned to send to Shell’s 1,700 service stations (MWMay 21).
The revised “letter before action” will be sent to all Gulf stations which have not been rebranded as Shell and are not yet contracted into the Smart scheme with Shell.
Donovan says: “There is a problem with interfering with existing contracts, but we are setting our approach out in the letter.”
The letter will also be sent to Shell service stations to warn managers they will be liable to legal proceedings when the Smart card scheme ends, and also to dealers to warn they will be liable if they switch to another franchise brand.
Shell UK is adamant it will win the case when it reaches the High Court. Mike Harle, retail development manager for UK and Ireland, says: “We think the case is clear that the Shell Smart card scheme out there is not John Donovan’s, but ours. We believe we can prove this in court.”
Shell UK will keep its station owners informed of the legal proceedings.
Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman “personally” kept senior Shell directors informed of progress in the SMART case.
This included the then Royal Dutch Shell Group Chairman, Mr Cor Herkstroter and two titled Shell Transport directors. Namely, Sir William Purves and Sir Peter Holmes (now deceased) – a former Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. The significance of the two latter names will become apparent.
Shell’s machinations during the run-up to the SMART trial (the breach of confidence case), destroyed any prospect of a fair trial.
SHELL TORPEDOED MY LEGAL AID
Shell completely undermined my financial situation by sending a letter (from Mr Wiseman) to the legal aid board making an allegation that happened to be completely untrue.
My legal aid was revoked and the SMART trial date arrived in June 1999, before the judicial review on the relevant issue could be heard. It meant that if I lost the case, I would be responsible for all legal costs and would have to declare bankruptcy, with a vengeful Shell as my major creditor. This was obviously a less than appetizing prospect.
The same thing happened to my father’s legal aid to fund his defence against the Counter-Claim brought against him by Shell. His legal aid was granted, then revoked. Again, the trial arrived before the judicial review of his application. My father complained bitterly about this injustice for the rest of his life.
As he correctly pointed out, terrorists have been granted legal aid (see screenshot gallery for recent example,) but his legal aid was revoked despite serving his country loyally as a regular soldier for 12 years, including throughout WW2.
SHELL CORRUPTED THE DISCOVERY PROCESS
Shell buried evidence in a mountain of mainly irrelevant documentation. Furthermore, due to incompetence or design, Shell delayed until days before the trial, the supply of vitally important handwritten discovery material – the diaries of AJL. Other relevant items only came to light years later, when I made an application to Shell under the UK Data Protection Act. For example, the aforementioned article by Richard Wiseman published in a Shell internal magazine.
The Judge never had sight or knowledge of this materially important activity by Shell.
Shell’s lawyer Colin Joseph, the then senior partner of a London law firm DJ Freeman, asked me to substantiate my claim, made in my letter published by Marketing Week magazine, that my family had been bombarded by threats. I supplied a 7-page letter listing the threats up to that point.
A brief extract is shown in the oblong box.
However, worse was to come when Shell resorted to corporate espionage.
ASSURANCE OF OUR PHYSICAL SAFETY BY SHELL
Because of sinister threats and associated events, including a series of highly suspicious burglaries in the run-up to the Smart High Court trial, which commenced in June 1999, Mr. Wiseman felt it appropriate to provide the following assurance on behalf of Shell in a faxed letter dated 9 July 1996 (link to the whole letter):
Neither you, your family, nor any potential witness, has any cause for physical fear as a result of your prosecuting this case with all the vigour we have come to expect.
The mere fact that a Shell director had felt that he should make such an assurance was itself somewhat disconcerting.
Apart from Police investigations, at one point, because of apparent anxiety in some quarters at Shell about the cloak and dagger activity, Shell held an internal investigation.
Colin Joseph confirmed in a letter dated 26 October 1998, that an internal investigation had taken place at Shell. The results were not shared with us.
The faint-hearted might decide to back off in the face of such sinister developments, irrespective of the merits of a claim or grievance. The threats and sinister events had a reverse effect on my family and me.
Since there were two distinct bouts of espionage activity, I have divided the relevant information into two parts: (1) “Shell corporate espionage in the run-up to the Smart trial” and (2) “Shell corporate espionage in more recent years” – covered in a later chapter.
My account of what occurred during the litigation years is based on my own memory of events, together with contemporaneous correspondence, documents, published news articles, and an extensive draft article prepared at the time by a journalist representing the Guardian newspaper, Mr Simon Rines.
The main Smart litigation was so long drawn out and intensely reported that it was said to have scuppered a merger deal between Shell and Texaco.
Extracts from a related magazine article dated July/August 1999 (the linked file also contains a salient letter circulated by Shell to Shell retailers):
One ex-Shell employee said, “This has been an on-going saga for so long now, one could reasonably assume that the action had become a fly in the ointment for any potential deal. From the language of the statements it does seem that Shell has wanted to draw a line under this action and secure the future of Smart. This could now pave the way for a merger, and Texaco would be the likely candidate.” The recent fluctuations in the oil price and the need to rationalise and cut costs across major markets has led oil giants into increasingly ambitious partnerships.
Shell’s proposed merger with Texaco was halted last year. Uncertainty over the long-term legal ownership of the Smart concept would certainly be a barrier to such a deal.
CONTENT OF A LEAFLET PUBLISHED ON OUR WEBSITE AND CIRCULATED IN JUNE 2004 AT THE SHELL CENTRE, LONDON. ALL EXTRACTS FROM COMMENTS MADE BY DR. JOHN HUONG
“I will supply for publication further informed comment and revelations in the run up to Shell’s AGM on 28 June. It will include examples of the toxic combination of arrogance, greed, dishonesty, and blatant disregard for all ethical norms by Shell Management, that has culminated in the current shame heaped upon the once proud Shell name.”
“…1 have integrated my personal insights as seen from the perspective of a former Shell employee – a Shell geologist for almost 30 years – who was unfairly axed by Shell management. I was punished because I insisted on working within the ethical boundaries of Shell’s “Statement of General Business Principles” (SGBP) which is supposed to protect shareholder, national and other stakeholder interests.”
“Correspondence between Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Mr. Richard Wiseman below shows the actual mentality of Shell Management in high places. This behavior was inevitably imitated by executives in operating companies who followed and adopted the example of a ruthless and deceitful corporate culture practiced by those at the very top of the Royal Dutch Shell Group.”
“No amount of spin and hype can hide the fact that Shell’s claimed core principle of truth and honesty in all of its dealings is unadulterated propaganda. Like Enron and WorldCom executives, Shell senior management obviously feels that it is okay to hide the truth from its shareholders and the public.”
“Below is a letter I last wrote on 3rd June 2004 to Shell Malaysian Management, hoping that if both sides entered into a constructive dialogue on a “without prejudice” basis, the matter could be resolved amicably despite the threats I had received on 17th May 2004 from their legal Manager Mr. Thavakumar Kandiahpillai. It is significant that legitimate questions (“Confidentiality versus Shareholder’s interests”-25th May 2004) I posed to him about Shell’s ethical practices have remained unanswered.”
It seems that Mr. Jeroen van der Veer and Mr. Malcolm Brinded could not command any effective solutions to Shell management in the Operating companies in resolving my case. I am just wondering how Jeroen and Malcolm can have the time to consider the well-being of an individual axed-employee when they have to think around the clock for ways and means in undoing and/or hiding their own personal and professional wrong-doing?
If only they could institute discipline and fair-minded management at the workplace, then Shell’s reputation will be given a breathing place to recover from being torn to pieces by the immoral self-serving attitude of Shell top management who appear to place their fat cat remuneration/pension packages above all other considerations, moral and legal.
Mail on Sunday: Chairman Jeroen van der Veer in frame over Shell scandal – could lead to 20 years in jail: Patrick Tooher, 6 June 2004
SOME ADVICE FROM A SHELL INSIDER OF ALMOST 30 YEARS …
Investors – “You cannot be sure of Shell” growing your funds. Potential employees – do not trust your career and aspirations to Shell until you understand the true inside story. If Shell is unwilling to undergo radical change at every level in the organization for the better, Shell’s negative and evil ingrained cultures will ultimately destroy the little which remains of its former reputation.
Just consider the recent appalling headlines as follows.
The Independent: “Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis”
The Scotsman: Shell admits reserve ‘lies’
Daily Telegraph: “Memos expose Shell’s years of lying”
London Evening Standard: “Shell bosses lied to the City”
Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Dutch/Shell Group exec was ‘sick and tired’ of lying”
When I started with Shell all those years ago I was proud to be an employee of what I considered to be nothing less than the best company in the world; an internationally respected brand and an equally highly respected management. It is a matter of the deepest regret to me that the company has sunk so low with its management acquiring global notoriety for participating in a disgraceful scandal which ranks alongside the likes of Enron and WorldCom.
It is ironic: If only Shell management had abided by its own ethical code – the SGBP, the humiliating reserves scandal, the results of which will inevitably drag on for many years with the investigations and ruinous class action law suits, could never have occurred. As God is my witness, that is the truth.
I am finding it hard to come to terms with the con-artist mentality of a management which thought it could say one thing in speeches and advertising – pledging “Profits and Principles” – honesty, openness, integrity etc and actually get away and rewarded with doing the exact opposite.
My recipe for recovery: Every single member of Shell senior management who is implicated in or tainted to the least extent by the reserves debacle should do the honorable thing and resign immediately. That includes Mr van der Veer and Mr Malcolm Brinded.
Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport and Trading should be merged into one unified company – Shell with a single management structure.
Only then would I be prepared to invest in Shell or to recommend anyone else to so.
This article is published under the universally recognised basic human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong 10 June 2004
(Ironically, just over a year later, Shell followed Dr Huong’s advice and merged the Anglo-Dutch arms to form Royal Dutch Shell Plc)
Article published in Forecourt Trader Magazine: FEBRUARY 1995royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com