Mail on Sunday: Mr Clean tipped for top Shell job
21 March 2004
SHELL, battling to control an escalating scandal over exaggerated oil reserves, could soon have a new boss - Malcolm Brinded, the 51-year-old head of exploration and production.
Sources tipping Brinded for the top job say he is not tainted by the furore engulfing the oil giant and is the key decision-maker, even though that role is nominally held by chairman Jeroen van der Veer.
Van der Veer's future is in question after Shell was lambasted for exaggerating its reserves. It disclosed last week that it had also overstated reserves in fields off Norway.
Leaks from the Securities and Exchange Commission, America's financial watchdog, suggest Shell knew two years ago it had overstated some reserves by up to 20%.
Brinded, who has been at Shell for 30 years and has risen through its gas and oil exploration arm, was never involved in the areas at the centre of the investigations.
Shell sacked chairman Sir Philip Watts and head of exploration and production Walter van de Vijver for their part in the scandal.
Brinded took over van de Vijver's job, but it was his appointment at the same time as vice-chairman of the all-powerful committee of managing directors that inevitably pushed him into the limelight.
A source at Shell said: 'Brinded is one of the good guys. He knows what is wrong in the company. He is definitely the man to watch.'
British-born and Cambridge educated, Brinded also has the advantage of coming through Shell on the Dutch side. In a dual nationality company fractured by infighting, this gives him a foot in both camps, though Shell is essentially dominated by the Dutch.
More executives are expected to go over the reserves scandal.
Meanwhile, accountancy firm KPMG, joint auditor to Shell, is said to have refused to sign off accounts due last Friday because of worries over the quality of information, according to the Sunday Times. KPMG and Shell declined to comment on the report.