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Daily Telegraph: Shell to report on reserves debacle


By James Moore (Filed: 19/04/2004)


Shell is today expected to publish the results of an investigation into how it overstated proven oil and gas reserves by more than 4 billion barrels, which could lead to the resignation of finance director Judy Boynton. 


Shell will announce details of the report, which is expected to highlight a number of shortcomings. The report's conclusions are likely to be released through the London Stock Exchange's regulatory news service this morning.


Shell has already fired its chairman, Sir Philip Watts, along with head of exploration and production Walter van der Vijver after a preliminary inquiry.


Jeroen van der Veer, chairman of the Anglo Dutch group's committee of managing directors, and Malcolm Brinded, vice chairman, have faced increasing criticism alongside Ms Boynton in recent weeks.


However, of the three, Ms Boynton, a 49-year-old American, is thought to be the most exposed. The company's twin boards are thought to have discussed whether further sacrifices are needed to assuage investor anger over the reserves debacle.


Ms Boynton, who has appointed lawyers, is an outsider at Shell and has detractors among senior figures on both the British and Dutch sides of the company.


As finance director, she had responsibility for the figures put out by the group, putting her in a difficult position even were she not found to be directly at fault.


She was chief financial officer of Polaroid for three years before joining Shell but resigned from the group in January 2001 after a profits warning. Later that year the company went into chapter 11 bankruptcy. Before joining Polaroid Ms Boynton worked for Amoco, now part of Shell's rival BP.


US law firm Milberg Weiss has named her and other Shell executives in a class action lawsuit on behalf of investors in Shell.


Shell's twin boards discussed their response to the audit committee's inquiry at a meeting on Friday. The meeting was chaired by Lord Oxburgh, non executive chairman of the UK arm of the business.


Mr Van de Vijver last week claimed that he had repeatedly warned the committee of managing directors that its reserves statements were potentially in violation of SEC rules. He criticised the group for firing him "without credible explanation".


The oil company is facing an investigation by the SEC, America's powerful financial regulator, and the US department of justice.


A Shell spokesman declined to comment ahead of the report's publication.;$sessionid$QSHSUNNVUYKIBQFIQMGCFFWAVCBQUIV0?xml=/money/2004/04/19/cnshe19.xml

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