London Evening Standard: US wants full Shell report held back
19 April 2004,
THE prospect of criminal charges resulting from the exhaustive investigation at Shell grew today, as it emerged that US authorities have asked the group not to release the full internal report.
Shell presented amazing email conversations between disgraced former chairman Sir Philip Watts and his exploration chief Walter van de Vijver with the probe's main findings today.
But it said US government authorities had requested it 'not release the full text of the report' in order to give them time to go through evidence found by the inquiry.
The US Justice Department opened its own probe shortly after the US Securities and Exchange Commission kick-started its own formal proceedings into the reserves debacle.
All three of the executive scalps claimed by the crisis - Watts, van de Vijver and Boynton - have appointed legal advisers, and van de Vijver last week vehemently protested his innocence.
Today's email traffic - sensationally provided by US lawyers Davis Polk & Wardwell - indicate that Shell executives knew of the potential problems the overbooking of reserves could create.
US regulators have tightened the screw on companies ever since the Enron and WorldCom scandals, and introduced the Sarbanes Oxley Act to improve corporate accountability.
In an email to Watts in October 2002 on the potential errors in reserves bookings, van de Vijver said: 'If I was interpreting the disclosure requirements literally ( Sorbanes (sic) Oxley Act etc) we would have a real problem.'