London Evening Standard: Shell facing court over 'rights abuses'
21 April 2004
SHELL'S reserves scandal may add weight to a US lawsuit against the company over alleged human rights abuses in Nigeria, a lawyer backing the drive has claimed.
Carey D'Avino of law firm Berger & Montague said former chairman Sir Philip Watts was central to both issues. Watts was forced out from Shell in March as the overbooking scandal unfolded. He was also a key figure for the company in Nigeria in the 1990s.
'The tie-in is his management style, his no holds barred, get things done and then spin it to the press approach,' D'Avino said.
'The new management may find this a proper time to clean up the rest of the Watts legacy,' he added.
Berger & Montague's lawsuit, launched in 2002, alleges that the Ogoni people who live in the oil-rich delta suffered human-rights abuse at the hands of the country's government. It further alleges that Shell 'engaged in militarised commerce in a conspiracy with the former military government of Nigeria'.
Shell denies the accusations. D'Avino last week questioned Watts in London over the Nigerian issues. The taking of a deposition is a routine step in preparing a case.
Shell has been rocked by the reserves scandal, when the group admitted that its proven holdings had been overstated by a fifth. An independent report said Watts supervised the overbooking when he was head of exploration and production from 1997 to 2001.