The Sunday Telegraph: Boynton's future hangs in balance
By Sylvia Pfeifer and Robert Peston (Filed: 18/04/2004)
Judy Boynton, the finance director of Royal Dutch/Shell, may resign as soon as tomorrow following the completion of the oil giant's probe of how it overstated its oil and gas reserves by more than 4bn barrels.
Lord Oxburgh, the non-executive chairman of the UK arm of the Anglo-Dutch group, was yesterday discussing her future with Jeroen van der Veer, the chairman of Shell's committee of managing directors.
"It's almost impossible for a finance director to survive following the kind of criticism we have received of how we reported our figures," said a director. "And that's true whether or not the mistakes were directly her fault or not."
The company's directors will today put the final touches to a stock exchange announcement to be released tomorrow, summarising the conclusions of an internal review of the accounting calamity.
The Telegraph has learnt that in an unprecedented move Shell will commit to hiring specialist external auditors to review its oil and gas reserves on a regular basis from now on.
The so-called "conference" of Shell and Royal Dutch directors - chaired by Lord Oxburgh - discussed the report at an all-day meeting in the Hague on Friday.
Executives are particularly anxious about ongoing investigations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice. Crucially, while the SEC can launch only civil prosecutions, the justice department can bring criminal charges if it believes the law has been broken.