Shell has agreed to pay $90m to settle a lawsuit initiated by its US employees last year following the reserves scandal which has been described on the BBC TV Money Programme as the biggest investor fraud in history. Around $25m is covered by insurance policies. Shell has also agreed to pay up to $1m of expenses for the plaintiffs' counsel, New York-based Milberg Weiss. Shell claims that the proposed agreement is an "important step" towards putting scandal related litigation behind it.

The US class action was filed by former and current US employees of Shell who participated in particular savings plans. They claimed that the value of their pension benefits had been adversely affected by a drop in the share price, which fell up to 15pc in the two months following the restatements in January 2004.

The 16 page court document issued by United States District Chief Judge John Bissell (who has also recently given consent for a separate class action lawsuit brought against Royal Dutch Shell, its auditors and named current and former Shell executives, including Jeroen van der Veer) is accessible via this link: Read the "Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement"

It is a strikingly different outcome compared with the court actions brought by various Shell employee groups in Malaysia, including a group of 399 - a case which Shell is dragging out for highly questionable reasons - see the astonishing news reports below. In another case in Malaysia, 58 ex-Shell employees had sued Shell in the High Court seeking reinstatement after they were made redundant under the pretext of "Organisational Review". Nine long years have elapsed and the case is still unresolved. Why is Shell taking such a ruthless approach towards its Malaysian employees (including a draconian defamation action by EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies against a Shell geologist reserves whistleblower Dr John Huong) compared with their American counter-parts? Why are Shell's Malaysian employees being treated with such blatant contempt?

Dr Huong is suing Shell in Malaysia for wrongful dismissal. He has been threatened with imprisonment by Shell for articles published on this website under his name which criticised Shell management misdeeds which were in breach of Shell's own ethical code. In short Dr Huong had a conscience and put into writing his objection to Shell shareholders being deceived about Shell's hydrocarbon reserves. Imprisonment seems to be an increasingly popular weapon for Shell to steamroller any opposition. It currently has five Irishmen imprisoned in Ireland - the "Rossport Five" - for daring to stand up for their principles. The only thing which can be said is that imprisonment is preferable to hanging, which was the terrible fate of Ogoni leaders, including the Nobel Laureate, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who peacefully opposed Shell's exploitation and despoliation of Ogoniland.

(Click this link for information about Shell mistreatment of its employees in Malaysia: Read the article)


AFX Europe (Focus): Royal Dutch/Shell settles employee class action suit, to pay some $90 million usd: “The Royal Dutch/Shell Group said it reached a settlement in a class action and related litigation brought against certain group companies on behalf of some employees and relating to Shell's reserves recategorisations.”: Tuesday July 12, 2005: Read the article

Reuters: Shell to pay over $90 mln to settle class action Tuesday: “Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday it had agreed to pay more than $90 million to settle a class action lawsuit taken by employees in relation to a reserves overbooking scandal last year.”: “Shell shocked investors in January 2004 by slashing its proven reserves of oil and gas. The revelation that the firm had been exaggerating the size of its reserves for years sent its stock tumbling and led to the ouster of its top executives. Shell, the world's third largest oil group by market capitalisation, has already paid about $150 million in fines to U.S. and UK financial regulators over the scandal.”: Tuesday July 12, 2005: Read the article

Daily Telegraph: Shell pays $90m to settle staff suit: “The class action was filed by current and former US employees who participated in certain savings plans.”: Wednesday 13 July 2005: Read the article

The Independent: Shell to pay £50m damages in US over reserves scandal: “Shell moved a step closer to putting last year's reserves reporting scandal behind it by agreeing to pay $90m (£50m) in damages yesterday to a group of US employee shareholders who had brought a class action lawsuit against the oil giant.”: “But there are still a further two shareholder class action suits pending in the US, while the Dutch financial markets regulator, the ASM, and the pan-European stock exchange Euronext are continuing to investigate Shell.”: “In addition, Sir Philip's personal role in the affair is still being investigated by the FSA.”: Wednesday 13 July 2005: Read the article

Times Online: Shell pays $90m to settle class action: “Shell still faces two other class action claims. One is a shareholder class action that has been consolidated in a New Jersey court. It is believed this claim asserts that share-based savings schemes suffered losses of more than £1 billion. Shell declined to comment on this case this morning. The other action is a derivative claim. Shell said that it was in settlement discussion over this claim but that it would be premature to comment any further.”: Posted Wednesday July 13, 2005: Read the article

BLOOMBERG: Shell Will Pay $90 Million to Settle U.S. Lawsuit: “Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Europe's second-largest oil company, agreed to pay about $90 million to settle a lawsuit brought by its U.S. employees after the company overstated its oil and gas reserves by 41 percent. The accord brings to about $240 million costs related to the overstatement, which led to lawsuits, criminal investigations and the ouster of Chief Executive Philip Watts (Update6): Posted Wednesday 13 July 2005: Read the article

Daily Express: Shell pays £52m to help settle reserves actions: The Anglo-Dutch oil giant has agreed to pay, subject to court approval, $90 million (£52 million) to a clutch of pension funds run for its US staff.”: “Shell has applied to have a second class action brought by a group of shareholders dismissed and is negotiating settlement of a third. Meanwhile, the company is still being probed by the owner of the Amsterdam stock exchange, Euronext, the Dutch financial watchdog, and regulator the Californian Department of Corporations.”: Posted Tuesday 19 July 2005: Read the article

Daily Mail (UK): Shell pays staff £51m in row over reserves: “Staff at Shell Oil in the US who contributed to a company savings plan -similar to a pension fund -filed the class action suit with the District Court in New Jersey in July last year. They claimed former and existing Shell directors and officers breached their fiduciary duties to the employees.”: Posted Sunday 17 July 2005: Read the article

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