Financial Times: DEPOSED HEAD PREFERS SOUND OF SILENCE
By Adrian Michaels
Published: April 21 2004 5:00 | Last Updated: April 21 2004 5:00
For all the noise and frenzy over Shell, one man has stayed silent while his reputation has been dragged through the mud, writes Adrian Michaels in New York.
Sir Philip Watts, deposed as head of the oil company, has chosen to keep quiet even while Walter van de Vijver, the former head of exploration, has been putting out bold statements in defence of his own actions.
Both men have hired lawyers in the US and are certain soon to be interviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US's chief financial regulator. Sir Philip's strategy of maintaining silence is the more usual. Lawyers often advise that until regulators have completed their investigation, public pronouncements can be premature, rile regulators or even hand them more ammunition.
Martha Stewart's defence of her actions ended with a charge that her statement was an improper attempt to shore up her company's share price. The charge was dismissed, although she was found guilty of other wrong-doing.
Mr van de Vijver seemed to have been pushed into talking to counteract negative media coverage. "Many of the statements made in the press are misleading," he said in a statement released by his lawyers. He was also careful to say he was not making a "detailed statement at this time". He is walking a trickier tightrope as he balances the needs of lawyers, regulators, the media and his former employer, with which he is still presumably negotiating a severance package.