Royal Dutch Shell Group .com

FINANCIAL TIMES: THE 'SMOKING GUN' E-MAIL AND INBOX INDISCRETIONS PUT COMPANIES IN THE LINE OF FIRE: *A top executive at Royal Dutch Shell was found to have written an e-mail saying he was "sick and tired about lying" over its inflated oil and gas reserves. That revelation, uncovered by the company's own internal report, knocked billions of dollars off its stock market value, and led to fines for Royal Dutch Shell on both sides of the Atlantic.: Thursday 8 Sept 2005

 

Published: September 8 2005

 

A number of recent high-profile disputes have hinged on accusers finding a "smoking gun" e-mail in a company's data storage:

 

*A top executive at Royal Dutch Shell was found to have written an e-mail saying he was "sick and tired about lying" over its inflated oil and gas reserves. That revelation, uncovered by the company's own internal report, knocked billions of dollars off its stock market value, and led to fines for Royal Dutch Shell on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

*Credit Suisse First Boston's technology analyst Frank Quattrone was convicted last year on the basis of a single e-mail he sent colleagues, telling them to "clean up" their files after a CSFB lawyer warned him that his allocation practices in initial public offerings were under investigation.

 

*Merrill Lynch's equity analyst Henry Blodget was fined $4m (2.1m), and his employers $100m, after his e-mails to colleagues showed they had recommended stocks in companies that the bank was acting for, despite personally thinking the shares were poor.

 

*Less serious, but still salutory is the case of Baker McKenzie, the big London law firm, which earlier this year hit the headlines worldwide when an e-mail exchange between a lawyer and his secretary over a ketchup stain, and who should pay for the damage, was leaked outside the firm.

 

The senior lawyer demanded 4 for the dry cleaning, the secretary was moved to riposte and a private e-mail exchange about a trivial event became riveting reading for a much wider audience.

 

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