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The Scotsman: Shell faces 15 US lawsuits



Wed 21 Apr 2004


TROUBLED oil giant Shell, reeling from its overstated reserves fiasco and a report in which senior director Walter van de Vijver admitted he was being forced to lie about the problem, yesterday confirmed it was aware of 15 class action lawsuits pending against it in the US.


Shell revealed that, following its announcement that it had overstated its proven reserves by 3.9 billion barrels in January, six lawsuits were launched against the company that month.


A further six were launched in February, when the US regulator, the Securities and Exchanges Commission, launched a probe into the affair.


Three further lawsuits were announced last month, as Shellís chairman Sir Philip Watts, and head of exploration and production van de Vijver, were ousted.


A Shell spokesman said yesterday: "We are aware of 15 class action lawsuits which may be pending. They are all in the United States. We know of none in the UK at present."


The news of the legal storm facing the oil giant came as it also refused to comment on a report that its announcement this week of an "accelerated" review into its corporate governance would lead to a ditching of its dual Anglo-Dutch listing.


It has been suggested Shell is considering creating a single global HQ in London with a sole listing on the London stock market, as opposed to listings in the UK and the Netherlands, to increase the groupís transparency.


A spokesman said: "We have no comment."


When Shell published the report of American legal firm Davis Polk and Wardell into the controversial reserves over-statement earlier this week, it said it would move faster on the corporate governance issue. But a spokesman said yesterday: "Previously we have said that we would work up to and including the 2005 AGM to bring about changes in corporate governance when necessary. But we have not been specific on timing, only to say that we are accelerating the process."


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