LETTER TO WILLIAM LERACH, US CLASS ACTION LAWYER FROM ALFRED DONOVAN: INCONTROVERTIBLE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF SHELL DELIBERATELY HIDING INFORMATION FROM ITS SHAREHOLDERS FROM 1994 ONWARDS
26 June 2004
Mr William S. Lerach
Lerach Coughlin Stoia Robbins LLP
401 B Street, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101
25 PAGES BY FAX ONLY TO: 001 619 231 7423
Dear Mr Lerach
INCONTROVERTIBLE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF SHELL DELIBERATELY HIDING INFORMATION FROM ITS SHAREHOLDERS FROM 1994 ONWARDS
My family and I have over the last decade brought several High Court Actions against Shell in the UK Courts and remain in dispute with them. I have therefore read with interest the news of the class action lawsuit you are bringing against Shell on behalf of US pension fund clients.
My son and I discovered a decade ago that Shell senior management has a deeply ingrained corporate culture of cover-up and deceit. I have documents which provide incontrovertible proof of the extent to which they have been prepared to go over the last decade to hide information from their shareholders – the people who actually own Shell.
I attach one such legal document which would make Shell shareholders eyes pop out. It is a Confidentiality Agreement/Deed signed by the then Managing Director of Shell UK Limited Mr David Varney and by me and my son. This agreement is probably unique in the history of litigation involving a publicly owned corporation. It was devised and pushed through personally by Shell Transport senior management including Group Managing Director, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. It has been described by Richard Wiseman, General Counsel of Shell International and Legal Director of Shell UK Limited as being “bananas”. The then Chairman and CEO of Shell UK was dead set against the agreement but was overruled.
I am aware that you have considerable experience in
corporate litigation but I would hazard a guess that you have never seen
anything like this agreement before. The package was worth about $225,000 to us.
Almost exactly 10 years ago, immediately prior to the 1994 Shell Transport AGM, Shell agreed to our proposal to put an earlier dispute to mediation, but only on the basis of us entering into a confidentiality agreement. That agreement was deliberately drafted by Shell lawyers to keep Shell shareholders completely in the dark.
In 1999, we informed every director of Shell Transport and Trading Company plc, Royal Dutch Petroleum, and Shell UK Limited, that we had found in Shell discovery documents, incontrovertible evidence of corrupt practices in respect of a tendering process for a major contract. Companies in the tendering process were deliberately cheated and deceived by Shell managers. They included large and small businesses including for example a retained promotions agency, Senior King, The contract was awarded in shady circumstances to a company which never even took part in the tendering process (which involved 35 companies). We also found an email concerning illegal activity knowingly sanctioned by one of the same managers. Shell management subsequently gave that manager their full support. Again I have the relevant documents.
What this all demonstrates is that during the last decade there has been a consistent policy of cover-up by Shell senior management exactly in line with the serious charges in your law suit. And it involves the same individuals; Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Sir Philip Watts, Maarten van den Bergh, Malcolm Brinded, Lord Oxburgh etc.
I also attach for your information a copy of a self-explanatory letter faxed on 24 June 2004 to Mr Peter Montagnon at the Association of British Insurers the content of which you may also find interesting. The same applies to my website, Shell2004.com.
I have also attached a copy of a paper authored by me at the invitation of The National Union of Ogoni Students International. It is being presented at a convention being held in Lincoln, Nebraska, today.
Please contact me if I can be of any assistance to your client’s case. I have already agreed to provide testimony for one important US Class Action case. This was after being approached directly at a high level by one of the relevant litigants.
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