London Evening Standard: Duo blamed over Shell debacle
13 April 2004,
AN INTERNAL report at Shell pins the blame for its reserves debacle squarely on former chairman Sir Philip Watts and exploration chief Walter van de Vijver, it was claimed today.
However, fears of a whitewash have emerged, given that dozens of others believed to have been implicated by the scandal rocking the Anglo-Dutch oil giant escape with little blame.
A draft report prepared by Shell's internal audit committee is circling Shell's top management and faults both Watts and van de Vijver for failing to disclose the group's problem early enough.
The report states that Shell made changes in the early 1990s that may have encouraged managers to inflate the amount of 'proven' oil and gas reserves on the books.
Watts and van de Vijver were ousted from the oil group last month after Shell rocked the City by disclosing it had overstated its proven reserves by 3.9 billion barrels - a fifth of its total amount.
The group, the subject of a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, lowered its estimates again last month and delayed its annual report. US law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell is assisting Shell's audit committee in its inquiry.
A Shell spokesman said: 'Once management has had the opportunity to properly and thoroughly review the contents and the implications of the group audit committee's final report, we plan to make its conclusions public.'