Shell safety boat sinks kayak while detaining others on Broadhaven Bay: Almost immediately after entering the bay the kayakers progress was obstructed by six Shell security and safety boats. The security boats, staffed with IRMS, Shell’s security personnel, then proceeded to grab hold of kayakers and their kayaks and detain them against their will. On some occasions kayakers were dragged by the security boats through the water, sometimes for up to 15 minutes. In a departure from previous years when Shell carried out work in Broadhaven Bay, no Gardaí were present at the scene
Issued by Rossport Solidarity Camp
Yesterday, the 16th June Shell began the operation to lay an umbilical from landfall at Glengad to the Corrib Gas field. At 5pm, six kayakers from Rossport Solidarity Camp entered the waters of Broadhaven Bay, in order to protest against the imposition of the Corrib Gas project on the local community. The protest marks the beginning of two weeks of action against the project.
Almost immediately after entering the bay the kayakers progress was obstructed by six Shell security and safety boats. The security boats, staffed with IRMS, Shell’s security personnel, then proceeded to grab hold of kayakers and their kayaks and detain them against their will. On some occasions kayakers were dragged by the security boats through the water, sometimes for up to 15 minutes. In a departure from previous years when Shell carried out work in Broadhaven Bay, no Gardaí were present at the scene.
At no time during the day was any legal authority cited for the detention of the kayakers besides a “request” by security that the kayakers leave the area. As one kayaker attempted to paddle out to the middle of Broadhaven bay, his hard-shelled kayak was rammed by the Shell safety boat; the Macbel operated by Belcross Enterprises, causing the kayak to capsize. The kayak then filled with water and sank after a short time. The kayaker then swam towards shore until he was picked up by a fellow kayaker. IRMS also temporarily seized paddles and a kayak from the group.
Rossport Solidarity Camp spokesperson Con Coughlan stated “We have seen Shell law operating on Broadhaven bay before however usually the Gardaí were present to implement Shell’s bidding. This year Shell have been allowed to bypass even any pretense that they are operating within the law and are detaining peaceful protesters in public places for as long a they deem fit”.
Con Coughlan continued “In March this year the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders called on the Irish government to promptly and impartially investigate all allegations and reports of intimidation, harassment and surveillance of Corrib campaigners. She also expressed concerns about the lawfulness of certain actions by the private security firm employed by Shell . The government has ignored the UN report and are allowing IRMS to continue to unlawfully detain peaceful protesters.”
For verification and comment
Con Coughlan 0851141170
Safe sex in Nigeria By John Donovan
Tom Mayne of Global Witness, an NGO, has followed the case closely; he believes things were structured this way so that Shell and ENI could obscure their deal with Malabu by inserting a layer between them. Mr Agaev, Malabu’s former fixer, lends weight to this interpretation. It was, he says, structured to be a “safe-sex transaction”, with the government acting as a “condom” between the buyers and seller.
Court documents shed light on the manoeuvrings of Shell and ENI to win a huge Nigerian oil block and on the dilemmas of their industry
DEALS for oilfields can be as opaque as the stuff that is pumped from them. But when partners fall out and go to court, light is sometimes shed on the bargaining process—and what it exposes is not always pretty. That is certainly true in the tangled case of OPL245, a massive Nigerian offshore block with as much as 9 billion barrels of oil—enough to keep all of Africa supplied for seven years.
After years of legal tussles, in 2011 Shell, in partnership with ENI of Italy, paid a total of $1.3 billion for the block. The Nigerian government acted as a conduit for directing most of that money to the block’s original owner, a shadowy local company called Malabu Oil and Gas. Two middlemen hired by Malabu, one Nigerian, one Azerbaijani, then sued the firm separately in London—in the High Court and in an arbitration tribunal, respectively—claiming unpaid fees for brokering the deal.
The resulting testimony and filings make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the uses and abuses of anonymous shell companies, the dilemmas that oil firms face when operating in ill-governed countries and the tactics they feel compelled to employ to obfuscate their dealings with corrupt bigwigs. They also demonstrate the importance of the efforts the G8 countries will pledge to make, at their summit next week, to put a stop to hidden company ownership and to make energy and mining companies disclose more about the payments they make to win concessions. On June 12th the European Parliament voted to make EU-based resources companies disclose all payments of at least €100,000 ($130,000) on any project.
The saga of block OPL245 began in 1998 when Nigeria’s then petroleum minister, Dan Etete, awarded it to Malabu, which had been established just days before and had no employees or assets. The price was a “signature bonus” of $20m (of which Malabu only ever paid $2m).
The firm intended to bring in Shell as a 40% partner, but in 1999 a new government took power and two years later it cried foul and cancelled the deal. The block was put out to bid and Shell won the right to operate it, in a production-sharing contract with the national petroleum company, subject to payment of an enlarged signature bonus of $210m. Shell did not immediately pay this, for reasons it declines to explain, but began spending heavily on exploration in the block.
Malabu then sued the government. After much legal wrangling, they reached a deal in 2006 that reinstated the firm as the block’s owner. This caught Shell unawares, even though it had conducted extensive due diligence and had a keen understanding of the Nigerian operating climate thanks to its long and often bumpy history in the country. It responded by launching various legal actions, including taking the government to the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.
Malabu ploughed on, hiring Ednan Agaev, a former Soviet diplomat, to find other investors. Rosneft of Russia and Total of France, among others, showed interest but were put off by Malabu’s disputes with Shell and the government. Things moved forward again when Emeka Obi, a Nigerian subcontracted by Mr Agaev, brought in ENI (which already owned a nearby oil block). After further toing and froing—and no end of meetings in swanky European hotels—ENI and Shell agreed in 2011 to pay $1.3 billion for the block. Malabu gave up its rights to OPL245 and Shell dropped its legal actions (see timeline).
The deal was apparently split into two transactions. Shell and ENI paid $1.3 billion to the Nigerian government. Then, once Malabu had signed away its rights to the block, the government clipped off its $210m unpaid signature bonus and transferred just under $1.1 billion to Malabu.
Tom Mayne of Global Witness, an NGO, has followed the case closely; he believes things were structured this way so that Shell and ENI could obscure their deal with Malabu by inserting a layer between them. Mr Agaev, Malabu’s former fixer, lends weight to this interpretation. It was, he says, structured to be a “safe-sex transaction”, with the government acting as a “condom” between the buyers and seller.
It is not hard to see why the oil giants would want to avoid being seen to be dealing directly with Malabu, a shell company with tainted provenance. Its ultimate beneficial owner is widely believed to be Mr Etete, the very minister who had awarded it the block while serving under Sani Abacha, the late, staggeringly corrupt dictator.
In 2007 Mr Etete was found guilty of money-laundering by a French court. His conviction was upheld in 2009. The trial centred on bribes he had allegedly demanded from foreign investors while in government. He used these to buy, among other things, a French mansion and about €1m-worth of Art Deco furniture, according to French court documents.
Then in 2011 Mr Obi, one of the middlemen in the final deal with Shell and ENI, took his claim for unpaid fees to the High Court in London, calling on Mr Etete to give testimony. For unclear reasons, he agreed to do so—but the hearings had to be moved briefly to Paris so that Mr Etete could give evidence, because he had been barred from Britain for failing to disclose his French conviction on entering the country.
Mr Etete claims he has never been more than a consultant to Malabu. If so, he is unusually hands-on. He was the company’s main negotiator and its representative in the High Court, where he admitted to being the sole signatory on its bank accounts. Indeed, there is no evidence of anyone else making decisions for Malabu.
When asked in court about others purportedly linked to the company and its record-keeping, Malabu’s company secretary, Rasky Gbinigie (who describes Mr Etete as a “family friend”), insisted that he had lost the firm’s copy of the register of shareholders and all minutes of meetings, that there was no written correspondence between him, the directors and the shareholders, and that he had no documents to verify who put up the company’s original share capital.
A not-so-secret alias
Last year Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) looked into Malabu after Mohammed Abacha, a son of the former dictator, complained that he had been a founding shareholder but had been illegally cut out. In an interim report later in the year, the commission said that one Kweku Amafegha “stood in” as a nominee director for Mr Etete. In the High Court’s hearing in Paris Mr Etete admitted that he had himself used the surname Amafegha to open accounts in the past. It was, he said, an alias that “I have always used when I go out for secret missions internationally.”
In the same hearing Mr Etete said of OPL245: “I put my blood, I put my life into this oil block”—quite a commitment for a mere consultant. Yet, when asked directly if he was its owner through Malabu, he denied it. When presented with transcripts of a recording in which he supposedly claimed that “It is my block”, he dismissed the transcripts as inaccurate.
Shell and ENI did not respond to The Economist’s questions about whom they believed to be the beneficial owner of Malabu. Whether or not they suspected it to be Mr Etete, their dealings with him were extensive. He met ENI executives repeatedly. High Court testimony indicated that Shell officials had met him as recently as December 2009, after his money-laundering conviction was upheld. In an e-mail that came out in court, a Shell man talked of having had lunch and “lots of iced champagne” with Mr Etete, who had requested figures from Shell on what it was willing to pay Malabu for the block.
ENI says it considered cutting a deal with Malabu directly, until it emerged that the firm might not have full ownership of the oil block because of “existing disputes”, including with Mr Abacha. Mr Obi testified that Shell broke off direct talks with Mr Etete for the same reason, and because he was “an impossible person to deal with”.
But the oil giants were clearly reluctant to throw in the towel. Shell was loth to walk away from a block in which it had already invested tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. (The company will not say how much.) ENI was attracted by the size of the block, the prospect of accompanying tax holidays and a waiver of the usual requirement that production revenues be shared with the national oil company.
Shell and ENI reject the suggestion that their joint purchase was a thinly disguised transaction with a dodgy brass-plate company. Shell says it made payments to the Nigerian government only and that it has acted at all times in accordance with Nigerian law. It previously said it had “not acted in any way that is outside normal global industry practice”. ENI says its payments to the government “were made in a transparent manner through an escrow arrangement with a major international bank”. That bank was JPMorgan Chase. A Lebanese bank had earlier declined to handle the payments, it emerged in court.
The companies’ claim that they bought the block from the state, not Malabu, is disingenuous, says Mr Mayne of Global Witness. It is also contradicted by Nigeria’s attorney-general, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who told a parliamentary committee last July that the companies “agreed to pay Malabu”, with the government acting as an “obligor” and “facilitator.”
The attorney-general was unusually active in helping the deal along. He held meetings with Shell, ENI and Malabu, helped to structure the final agreement and even advised on payments to middlemen, according to Mr Obi. In Nigeria it is highly unusual for an attorney-general to be so involved in a big oil deal. The lead is typically taken by the petroleum ministry, which in this case was said to be livid at being sidelined—particularly when Mr Adoke requested that it extend the deadline it had given Malabu to pay its long-owed signature bonus. Mr Adoke, it was suggested in the High Court, had been lawyer to none other than Mr Etete before serving in government. (Mr Adoke could not be reached for comment.)
Where did the money go?
The attorney-general has rejected as “without basis” claims in the Nigerian press that much of the money the government paid to Malabu in the 2011 deal was “round-tripped” back to bank accounts controlled by public officials. But where that money did end up is shrouded in mystery. Of the $1.1 billion, $800m was paid in two tranches into Malabu accounts. This was then transferred to five Nigerian companies that appear to be shells. One of these, Rocky Top Resources, received $336.5m, some of which seems to have been passed on to unknown “various persons”, according to the EFCC’s report. Some $60m went to an account controlled by Mr Etete, who has said that he received $250m in total for his role in the deal. He said in court that “Malabu shareholders decided to spend their money the way they deemed fit” and that he is investing on their behalf.
Among the listed owners of three of the recipient companies is Abubakar Aliyu, who is reported to have close business ties to a senior politician, Diepreiye Alamiesegha, the former governor of Bayelsa state. Mr Alamiesegha’s skills in escapology would impress Houdini. Detained in Britain on money-laundering charges in 2005, he jumped bail. After returning to Nigeria, he was sentenced in 2007 to two years for each of six corruption-related charges, though he served only a few hours in prison. In March 2013 he received a controversial pardon from Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president. Local press reports have made unsubstantiated allegations linking both the president and Mr Alamiesegha to the Malabu deal.
The EFCC’s report states: “Investigations conducted so far reveal a cloudy scene associated with fraudulent dealings. A prima facie case of conspiracy, breach of trust, theft anmd [sic] money laundering can be established against some real and artificial persons.” Officially, the EFCC’s investigation is still open, but a source familiar with it says that its sleuths have been discouraged by higher-ups from moving forward. However, other countries’ fraudbusters have taken an interest. At least one of the parties involved in the oil-block sale has been contacted by America’s Department of Justice.
As for the legal actions brought in London against Malabu by the middlemen, the High Court is expected to rule soon on Mr Obi’s claim for $200m. Mr Agaev’s separate arbitration case, in which he sought payment of a $65.5m “success fee”, was recently settled behind closed doors.
Shell and ENI now each own half of an attractive oil block. To get it, however, they have had to strike a deal that brings with it reputational and legal risks. They might conceivably face action under their home countries’ anti-corruption laws, if enforcers reject their claim to have dealt only with the Nigerian government, not Malabu. Shell “would obviously have preferred to secure OPL245 without going within a million miles of Malabu and Etete,” says someone who was involved in the negotiations.
The saga is a striking example of an ethical dilemma that is growing more acute for international oil companies. They are desperate to replace their shrinking reserves with new finds, but many of the most attractive fields are in unstable or poorly governed places. Worse, the industry has to contend with increased resource nationalism in oil-producing countries, making it harder for outsiders to secure reserves, and with greater competition from state-owned firms in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, which may not have to operate to the same ethical standards.
As a result, firms that refuse to touch any deal with the slightest whiff of impropriety risk eventually going out of business, says Peter Hughes, an energy consultant and former BP executive. They may feel that the best they can do, short of walking away, is to put as much distance as possible between them and the source of the bad smell, as Shell and ENI apparently tried to do with their two-part transaction.
How arm’s-length is arm’s-length enough? That depends on the company’s “threshold of ambiguity”, says Cory Harvey of Control Risks, which helps companies to manage political and reputational risk. This will vary from company to company and will be perceived differently by management, regulators and NGOs. Ms Harvey has seen oil-industry clients walk away from deals because of concerns about the reputation of, or lack of reliable information on, a seller or local partner. But energy transactions in difficult places can be “spectacularly complex”, she says, making it hard to gauge the acceptable level of risk. Nigeria is “arguably the most complex environment of all”.
Mr Hughes argues that when foreign companies turn a blind eye to questionable aspects of a deal, it can sometimes benefit developing countries with natural resources. The publicly traded oil majors are, on balance, a force for good, raising overall standards of behaviour by trying to operate as cleanly as possible in most circumstances, he says; better that than leaving the field to less scrupulous operators. Ethically speaking, the industry “has to be viewed in relative, not absolutist, terms,” he argues. Mr Hughes points out that Shell periodically talks of scaling back its Nigerian operations, which he believes to be “part of a political-risk management strategy” to exert pressure on the government to act more cleanly and predictably.
Global Witness prefers to see the OPL245 affair as “a lesson in corruption” that demonstrates how important it is for rich-world governments to press on with transparency initiatives, on two fronts. The first front concerns payments to governments. In the past year America and the EU have begun to require resources firms listed there, and large unlisted firms in the EU, to report, project-by-project, their payments to governments. Had this been in force at the time, it would have picked up the $1.3 billion transaction with Nigeria. This would have prompted public scrutiny of the deal and the subsequent money flows through Malabu, which in the end came to light only because the two middlemen decided to sue.
Shell says it favours greater transparency, if applied globally. It opposes the existing project-by-project initiatives because they omit companies not listed in America or Europe, thereby handing them a competitive advantage.
The second front for improving transparency concerns the use of murky corporate vehicles. Hopes are growing that the G8, which meets next week with Britain’s David Cameron in the chair, will take steps towards ending the use of anonymous shell companies. Had corporate registries been collecting, and making publicly available, information on beneficial owners back in 1998, the identity of Malabu’s owners might have been clear from the start. And it would have been much more difficult to move the proceeds of the sale to Shell and ENI into the corporate equivalent of a black hole, seemingly out of the reach even of Nigeria’s anti-corruption commission.
RAGE AGAINST THE BORING MACHINE
Come to act in solidarity with the campaign in Mayo against Shell’s Corrib Gas Project. For over 12 years, the local community have been resisting Shell’s plans to force through a high pressure raw gas pipeline and inland refinery. Local people have gone through all possible channels to fight the project.
Let down by the Government; many have been beaten, imprisoned and feel under siege by the security and police. However people continue to protest in order to protect their families, livelihoods and resources. Currently Shell are attempting to tunnel under an EU ‘protected’ estuary with their tunnel boring machine but they are experiencing major construction problems. If they are having difficulties without protests, imagine how much havoc a little more disruption will cause. Rossport is the frontline of the resistance to ‘Extreme Energy’ extraction in Ireland.
Hot on the heels of the anti-G8 protests, we warmly invite old and new faces to come join us for a week of action against Shell’s disastrous project.
If you are new to taking action don’t worry – all kinds of skills and roles are needed during the week of action and you will be able to play a role that you are comfortable with. If you know the area and have ideas for action – get prepared and come with an affinity group if possible.
History of the campaign – The story so far
The campaign against Shell’s inland refinery and high-pressure pipeline, the ‘Corrib gas project’ near Rossport in Co Mayo has been long and extraordinary. It began in the year 2000 when a plan was announced to build an inland gas refinery and a 9km ultra-high pressure raw gas pipeline through several villages. In 2005 the imprisonment of five local men who became known as ‘the Rossport Five’ brought the campaign to national and international attention. Residents launched a national campaign called Shell to Sea in early 2005, demanding that the gas be processed offshore away from communities. Local residents and their allies continue to oppose the threat to local health and safety as well as highlighting human rights concerns, environmental damage and economic injustice. Over the 13 years of resistance so far, tactics have ranged from High Court actions, planning objections and lobbying politicians to grassroots campaigning, civil disobedience and direct action. Through a combination of these tactics the community and their supporters have delayed Shell’s project for 10 years to date and more than tripled the cost of the project to over €3 billion. Over the past eight years thousands of people have come to the area to lend their support – for days, weeks and years. Rossport Solidarity Camp was set up in 2005 and since then has hosted people from around Ireland and the world seeking to learn about and support the struggle. This week of action is hosted by Rossport Solidarity Camp.
For a good timeline of the campaign see this previous Rossport Indymedia Feature.
In January 2013, Shell began a 5km-long tunnel through Sruwaddacon estuary, a Special Area of Conservation which they plan to use for their onshore raw gas pipeline. Shell now says the project will be completed in 2015. At the time of writing, Shell are experiencing very serious difficulties in attempting to tunnel through the subsoil underlying the estuary. Shell have also begun laying the other sections of the onshore pipeline and are also building a valve station at Glengad. The project still has no community consent, and has only got this far because Gardaí and private security are occupying the area. Local experience of this occupation can be viewed here.
The tunnel boring machine, insultingly named Fionnuala (an Irish mythological legend) and painted in the Co. Mayo colours, has faced problems since its arrival in July 2012 which was met with stiff resistance [ 1 | 2 ].
Shell’s dodgy construction headache is not limited to the pipeline. Just last week, a Shell worker accidentally cut one of the gas pipes on the refinery. The refinery was completed back in 2010 and has just been left to rust due to all the other delays. Shell are currently having to replace all the water pipes on site due to corrosion.
Protests are still ongoing but the focus is on the week of action in June.
Week of action Friday 21st to Sunday 30th of June
Whether you have been always meaning to visit or have been a regular over the years, this week is the time to come.
Programme for the Week:
The events planned include:
* Update on the Shell Corrib Gas Project
* Talk by local community members the campaign and current situation.
* Legal Workshop – practical information about laws, dealing with the Gardaí, Courts.
* Action planning meetings.
* Actions to disrupt Corrib Gas Project, including disrupting Shell truck movements which are necessary for tunnelling.
* Solidarity events with the local community.
* Discussion on maintaining solidarity in the future.
Check here for the full programme.
* Get you & your mates ready to come over in June
* Put on a film night/talk/fundraiser for Rossport
* Help spread the word: put up posters online, in your city and everywhere else.
* We need help building the camp from 1st June. No experience or skills necessary, all welcome.
* Come for the action camp 21st-30th June. Bring your tent, sleeping bag, waterproofs & wellies.
Travelling to Mayo:
The best way is to get a rail & sail from Britain to Dublin/Belfast/Ballina. This is a walk on fare that you can get from any train station in the UK & includes the ferry. See nationalrail.co.uk. It costs about £35 to Dublin, £52 to Ballina (single) but varies depending on times you’re travelling. Or you can just go to Dublin/Belfast & then hitch or get a Bus Eireann. Bikes can go on trains & buses in Ireland but you are meant to pay about 10 euros. The camp is about 35 miles from Ballina. There is one bus a day at 5.15pm from Dunnes Stores in Ballina. They will usually drop you off at camp. It’s a minibus called McGraths & costs about 10 euros. Hitching is really easy – check here for directions.
The camp is run by everyone mucking in. We ask 25 euros a week donation towards food & running costs. No-one will be turned away however because of lack of funds. There are rotas for cooking & washing up & various site maintenance jobs. Meetings are run by consensus & actions are planned by everyone who wants to be involved. There is always loads to do taking direct action against Shell, maintaining & building things for the camp, legal work, painting banners, gardening, cooking, writing articles, meeting local activists etc. People of all ages, skills, interests and abilities are invited to get involved in this inspiring community led campaign. The camp has a no illegal drugs policy at all times & no alcohol except for friday & saturday night. The camp also has a safe space policy. Please read our website for more information.
Because of the G8 in nearby Fermanagh, it is possible that the UK police or Irish Gardai will stop you at the ferry port. Be prepared to face questions on where you are heading -there’s no law against going on holiday in Ireland!
For legal information about rossport read the legal page of our website.
Rossport Solidarity Camp
Copy of correspondence between John Donovan and Michael Crothers Managing Director SEPIL / Venture Manager Corrib at Shell Exploration and Production Ireland which makes good reading.
What a tenacious man Donovan is I hope he keeps it up
At that point, when you send a letter in your name knowing that it designed to deceive, you have lost your integrity and join previous Shell senior executives, such as Jeroen van der Veer, who also gave in to the dark side of Shell. Bill Campbell, the retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International has confirmed that the same internal investigation smokescreen was used in respect of the Brent Bravo deaths scandal.
From: John Donovan <email@example.com>
Subject: OSSL DEBACLE
Date: 10 June 2013 09:32:04 GMT+01:00
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org COMPANY” <email@example.com>
Dear Mr Crothers
As you will recall, the subject of the correspondence was OSSL, the company formally employed as a “Mr Fixit” by Shell E&P Ireland Limited.
Clare Daly kindly contacted you on my behalf.
I passed a copy of your response on to the owners of OSSL because I knew they would be interested in what you have been saying behind their backs.
Basically you have fallen back on the same cover-up formula previously used in other Shell scandals – the allegations have been fully investigated on an independent basis internally by Shell and no evidence found to support them – in this case allegations that Shell has corrupted the Irish Police Force by plying hundreds of officers with free booze.
This cover-up formula is a disreputable devious device. Shell employees investigate allegations against Shell management and amazingly clear Shell management of any wrongdoing. No independent party involved in the investigation and no genuinely independent oversight. How likely is it that any Shell employee would imperial their career at Shell by telling Shell management something it does not wish to hear?
There is no outright lie and no outright denial, but instead a statement that an independent internal investigation found no evidence to support the allegations. This whitewashing process allows a scandal to be covered up. To me, that degree of machination almost seems worse than an outright lie. The end result is a letter issued in your name, but no doubt drafted by sleazy lawyers that completely deceives the recipient into believing that Shell is innocent, when in fact Shell is guilty.
At that point, when you send a letter in your name knowing that it designed to deceive, you have lost your integrity and join previous Shell senior executives, such as Jeroen van der Veer, who also gave in to the dark side of Shell.
Bill Campbell, the retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International has confirmed that the same internal investigation smokescreen was used in respect of the Brent Bravo deaths scandal.
I recall another example when Shell carried out an internal investigation of threats made against my family. Shell naturally cleared itself of any wrongdoing on that occasion, only to be subsequently caught red-handed in an undercover operation targeting my family and me. My lawyers cornered Shell UK into a written admission at director level.
Hence my total lack of faith in any internal investigation carried out by Shell. It is nothing but a smoke and mirrors device to cover-up the truth. An absolute charade in which key witnesses/parties have no involvement and are not even approached.
You appear to be another victim of Shell’s corruption of the integrity of senior people within the company. When you first became aware of how OSSL had been disgracefully used to carry out underhand and probably criminal activities on behalf of Shell, not just corrupting the police, you appeared to be genuinely sympathetic.
You met personally with the owners of OSSL. You gave them a letter of endorsement.
You were the good cop, while others issued threats against OSSL on Shell’s behalf.
At 12.26 on 22 May 2012, OSSL sent you an email. It mentioned your alleged admittance that Shell had shut down OSSL abruptly, without notice and immorally. It detailed a threat OSSL had allegedly received from a party acting for Shell in relation to the supply of large amounts of alcohol to the Irish Police Force and related falsification of invoices.
22 Minutes later you personally sent a reply.
“I did not say that “Shell shut down your company immorally”. I was careful to say that I personally felt some moral obligation to try to find a way to find a settlement, hence the without prejudice offer that was made.”
Significantly, you did not take issue with or make any denial in respect of the statements about the threat to OSSL, the large amounts of alcohol showered on the Irish Police, nor on the related disguised invoices.
Why, because you and the party to which you were sending your reply – OSSL – knew they were true.
Your letter of 28 May 2013 also contains detailed disapproving and possibly defamatory comments about OSSL and its vigorous campaign seeking redress from Shell. I have been pleased to assist OSSL in that regard.
I believe that most independent people reading the content of your letter dated 28 May 2013 would conclude that OSSL has been demanding money on false grounds and in the process, has engaged in wide-scale distasteful harassment.
In fact, it is your letter that is disgrace because it is designed to convey a false impression that Shell is innocent of these serious charges, when the reverse is the case, and you know it.
What we have is a two page letter designed to deceive the reader, when, if Shell was honest and had been falsely accused, an unambiguous rebuttal could have been made in a single short paragraph.
The allegations against Shell are completely false. OSSL has not distributed any alcohol to the Garda on our behalf. Shell has not made any threats directly or indirectly against OSSL. No invoices has been falsified on Shell’s instructions.
Sadly, you are now part of the cover-up of Shell’s large-scale corruption of the Irish Police Force.
I wonder where your auditors would stand on the matter of proper books of account on which they are legally obliged to express an opinion; were the auditors made aware of OSSL’s allegations of non-payment for the supply of goods and services and falsification of related invoices and in particular, where there is an allegation of tax fraud and corrupt inducement of the law enforcement arm of the state, did your auditors consider their reporting obligations in relation to such matters?
You make reference in your letter to ‘excessive tax withholding’ – what was the nature of the tax withheld?
Let me repeat without any protective legal preamble: Shell EP Ireland has engaged in widespread corruption of the Irish Police in relation to the controversial Corrib Gas Project, which is billions over budget and hopelessly delayed.
You have fallen far in accusing OSSL of activities tantamount to blackmail, harassment and lies, bearing in mind what you have not disclosed to Clare Daly about the current situation.
I was sympathetic to your predicament and made it plain in published articles that you had inherited a toxic mess. Unfortunately you have allowed yourself to become drawn into the mire.
I intend to publish this email tomorrow under the headline – “The integrity of Shell EP Ireland CEO Michael Crothers” – subject to any legal intervention by Shell.
I will happily publish on an unedited basis any comment you may wish to make.
One thing I know you will not provide is an outright denial along the lines suggested above.
Why not, for the sake of your own conscience, stop this cover-up dead in its tracks before it is too late?
There are too many people involved to keep the lid on this huge scandal that will likely rock the foundations of the Irish establishment.
ONLY AN AUTOMATED RESPONSE RECEIVED THUS FAR FROM MR CROTHERS – NOTHING FURTHER AS OF POSTING AT 2PM UK TIME ON 11 JUNE 2013. MR CROTHERS/SHELL WILL SURELY TAKE LEGAL ACTION UNLESS SHELL ACCEPTS, AS IT APPEARS TO DO, THAT WHAT I HAVE STATED ON THIS MATTER IS FACT.
From time to time we like to highlight events from the long often-dark history of Royal Dutch Shell.
From time to time we like to highlight events from the long often-dark history of Royal Dutch Shell.
We have previously published evidence that Shell conspired directly with Hitler, financed the Nazi Party, was anti-Semitic and sold out its own Dutch Jewish employees to the Nazis.
This article reveals how Shell collaborated in the Nazi annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia in the run up years to World War 2.
Royal Dutch Shell and its long-term leader, Sir Henri Deterding, who became an ardent Nazi, had a close relationship with Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. Deterding was the subject of gushing praise by Hitler.
Rhenania-Ossag was the operating company for the Royal Dutch Shell Group in Nazi Germany. Shell was seeking an oil monopoly in the German market.
As one of the two biggest German oil companies and the main lube oil manufacturer, Rhenania-Ossag was an industry leader in Nazi Germany. Many of its workers and directors were Nazis.
The Nazi regime did not take control of Rhenania-Ossag until January 1940.
Following Hitler’s annexation of Austria on 12 March 1938 and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Royal Dutch Shell Group managing directors sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell operating companies in those countries. This meant that a company dominated by the Nazis gained control over Shell companies in Austria and Czechoslovakia.
This clearly fell in with the Nazis plans, or otherwise it would not have been permitted.
This all took place before the outbreak of World War2 and while Royal Dutch Shell was still in control of all subsidiary companies, including Rhenania-Ossag.
Most of the above information comes directly from Volume 2 of “A History of Royal Dutch Shell” (page 78) and the remainder from Wikipedia.
We have already noted the Nazi government’s appointment of a Verwalterfor Rhenania-Ossag in January 1940; the Bataafsche Verwalter subsequently assumed formal control over the companies in countries under German occupation or in the German sphere of influence, such as Hungary.
Of the Group’s companies under Nazi control only Astra, Rhenania-Ossag, and Nafta Italiana continued operating at their former levels. As we have already seen, Astra was drawn into the German war effort. As one of the two biggest German oil companies and the main lube oil manufacturer, Rhenania-Ossag was an industry leader in the country. Following Hitler’s annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, Group managing directors sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell companies in those countries.142 With the rupture of overseas supplies, Rhenania-Ossag turnover plummeted, but the company formed part of the official oil cartel and thus had a share in the processing and distribution of any oil coming in, which assured a steady, if meagre, flow of revenues. In December 1940 the Verwalter activated the hidden financial reserves built up during the 1930’s to raise the company’s capital from 75 million to 120 million Reichsmarks. A year later Rhenania-Ossag floated a bond loan of RM 60 million to payoff an old loan from Bataafsche and finance some new installations.143 Meanwhile, the relationship between parent company and subsidiary had to some extent been reversed by the appointment of Rhenania-Ossag’s research director as Verwalter over Bataafsche’s Amsterdam laboratory, to ensure that it would contribute to the German war effort.
Astra was the operating company of Royal Dutch Shell in Romania.
Nafta Italiana was the operating company of Royal Dutch Shell in Italy.
Austria was annexed into the German Third Reich on 12 March 1938.
Following the Anschluss of Nazi Germany and Austria, in March 1938, the conquest of Czechoslovakia became Hitler’s next ambition. The incorporation of the Sudetenland into Nazi Germany left the rest of Czechoslovakia weak and it became powerless to resist subsequent occupation. On 16 March 1939, the German Wehrmacht moved into the remainder of Czechoslovakia.
Staff meeting of the Shell oil factory in Hamburg Curio-Haus, 8 April 1935.
March of Rhenania-Ossag employees on 1 May 1938 (on the accompanying sign says: “Operating-cell Rhenania Ossag”)
What’s going on with Ireland’s natural resources? Many people believe that our government have given our oil away, and that ownership and control of the oil belongs completely to the various oil companies. Have our government really given it away? There’s so much speculation and spin around the whole topic – no one seems to be able to give a clear assessment of the situation. When confronted, politicians do what they do best – avoid answering questions. Isn’t it time we had some transparency?
On a recent trip to Oslo, I spoke with an engineer who worked on the first oil finds in Norway. Before Norway began producing their own oil, it was a poor country which mainly produced timber and fish. The illusion that the Norwegians initially knew how to produce oil needs to be smashed. There is a distinction between a drilling/exploration licence and a licence to extract/produce. When Royal Dutch Shell declared itself capable of producing oil in the North Sea, the Norwegian government said “great, now it’s a joint venture”. Essentially, they said “this is Norwegian oil and if you’re going to take it out of our territory – it is going to be a joint venture – we’re in.”
Norway didn’t become a wealthy country overnight. When the oil industry was in its infancy in Norwegian waters back in the 1970s, the Norwegians paid dearly; people don’t work for free. For example, each barrel worth $109, Shell say “we want $87 of that because we need to recover our huge investment.” This is where government need to be strong in their negotiations and get the best deal for the state. The Norwegians learned quickly and invested heavily in education and over time have become leading experts in oil exploration and production. Where did they attain this knowledge?
In the 1970s, engineering professionals from the Gulf of Mexico (the birthplace of off-shore drilling) and Britain came to Norway with their expertise. It wasn’t long before Shell and other companies were in the North Sea. The Norwegians participated; they watched and learned the techniques of the industry and since the 1980s have been exploring and producing around the globe with their own company, Statoil. Their main political objective has been to ensure that the values on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) benefit the entire country.
It appears that a country would be better off to put out contracts to drill and extract the oil out to tender; however, the industry is not structured this way. Off-shore oil production by its nature is very costly because the crude oil extracted has to be refined. To save on transportation costs, the oil company builds a platform to refine the oil at sea. It takes three years and costs billions to complete this project. Once the oil is refined, it can then be piped to the mainland or more favourably into huge tankers, which can then be shipped across the globe to the highest bidder.
Who makes the lion’s share of the profits? Of course, the company who makes the biggest investment into the research, scientific work, development, drilling, production, and when they get the oil up and out of the sea bed, the share that the country gets depends on the contract made between the oil companies and the government of the country. Shell is a company who often invests 100% of the costs of exploration and then leases out drilling rights to companies who come in and produce. Shell and the government negotiate the terms. The Irish government appear to be gravely inept at bargaining with multinationals. One only has to look at the IFSC and the minuscule rate of tax they pay the state. Why don’t we demand more?
If we want to emulate the Norwegians success, we must be willing to invest wisely in ascertaining the necessary knowledge and educating professionals in the field thus creating our own company, which we could appropriately name, Emerald Oil. However, this will be impossible for us to do because we are paying billions of euros to unsecured bondholders in Europe, and to our International bailout masters.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given us a bailout package along with European financial institutions. The IMF has a reputation for being repaid through the sale of a country’s natural resources; asset stripping is their forte. Their ability to manufacture and offload massive debt onto countries, and then take control of their state assets has been fine-tuned over the last 50 years, from Latin America to Africa to Asia. Our energy reserves alone are worth potentially trillions and anything else is a bonus for them. They succeed via complicit government and elite that is thrown a few bones to keep them accustomed to the life they live. What they don’t like is a well-informed, educated public, capable of engaging in critical thinking. Let us be critical, vocal, resolute and disobedient, and demand more.
One hates to be pessimistic, but it looks like we’ve been set up and are about to be completely robbed of our natural assets. Wouldn’t we be better off to leave our oil in the ground until we’re ready to profit from it? The IMF and co are expecting to be repaid with the sale of Ireland’s forests, cheap oil, and cash payments in the form of further cuts in public spending. Austerity doesn’t work; it has never worked anywhere, ever. We should have already repudiated this toxic debt, which is not ours, and left the euro. Only then can we create better opportunities for future generations on this abused island. Support the campaign to Own Our Oil http://www.ownouroil.ie.
With Royal Dutch Shell, price fixing is not a matter of conjecture, but normal operating procedure. Its in the company DNA. Shell has a disgraceful history of price fixing/cartel activity stretching back over a century, including a cartel operated with its Nazi partner, I.G. Farben, found guilty of war crimes. Shell’s history of market manipulation, stretches back almost to its inception, including cartel participation, price fixing, fictitious trades, monopoly, securities fraud etc. Shell was a founding member of the “Seven Sisters“, the first global oil cartel.
By John Donovan
The news media is giving huge coverage of the EU investigation into alleged price-rigging by oil companies, including Shell and BP.
It remains to be seen whether Shell is guilty on this occasion.
With Royal Dutch Shell, price fixing is not a matter of conjecture, but normal operating procedure. Its in the company DNA. Shell has a disgraceful history of price fixing/cartel activity stretching back over a century, including a cartel operated with its Nazi partner, I.G. Farben, found guilty of war crimes.
Winston Churchill attacked Shell for secret oil price rigging. Even if not well founded at that time, Churchill’s instinct was bang on.
Shell’s history of market manipulation, stretches back almost to its inception, including cartel participation, price fixing, fictitious trades, monopoly, securities fraud etc. Shell was a founding member of the “Seven Sisters“, the first global oil cartel.
The Royal Dutch Shell Group was built on price-fixing.
Some more recent examples.
New York Times: “Shell to Pay $180 Million” (Price fixing case): 3 Jan 1987
New York Times: “California Oil Price-Fixing Case Settled”: 17 August 1991
New York Times: Settlement for Coral Power: 15 November 2003
Bloomberg: Shell, Unipetrol, Bayer Are Sued Over Rubber Cartel (Update2): 20 May 2008
May 20 (Bloomberg) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the second- largest U.S. tiremaker, and 25 other companies sued Unipetrol AS, units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Bayer AG, and as many as 20 others over an alleged rubber cartel in Europe.
Unipetrol and units of Shell, Dow Chemical Co., Eni SpA and Trade-Stomil Sp were fined a total of 519 million euros ($813 million) in a 2006 European Union antitrust case over material used to make tires and shoes. The companies are appealing.
The Times: Supermarkets and tobacco firm are fined £173m for price fixing: 12 July 2008
Reuters: EU fines “paraffin mafia” wax makers’ cartel: 1 October 2008
The Times: ‘Paraffin mafia’ comes unstuck after €676m fines: 2 October 2008
Guardian: ‘Paraffin mafia’ firms given £500m fines for price-fixing: 2 October 2008
Financial Times: Brussels fines paraffin wax cartel: 2 October 2008
The Wall Street Journal: Wax Price-Fixing Is Alleged: 2 October 2008
Financial Post (Canada): GREECE FINES BP, SHELL $80M FOR PRICE-FIXING: 26 November 2008
ChannelNewsAsia: Greece fines BP, Shell for price-fixing: 26 November 2008
International Herald Tribune: Greece: BP, Shell fined for competition breaches: 25 November 2008
Bloomberg: Chevron, Total, Exxon, Shell Fined on Air France Fuel: price fixing cartel: 4 Dec 2008 (Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Chevron fined 41.1 million euros ($52 million) by the French antitrust authority for fixing the price of fuel for certain Air France-KLM Group flights.)
Shell, Dow lose court challenge to EU antitrust fine: 13 July 2011: Reuters
(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Dow Chemical (DOW.N) lost a court appeal on Wednesday against a fine levied by EU regulators five years ago for taking part in a cartel…
…the Court upheld the 160.88 million euro fine on the Royal Dutch Shell group.
Shell settles South Africa cartel case: 21 February 2012
Would would have thought that oil barons — of all people! — would be involved in dirty back-room dealings to gorge their gobs with even more swill from the trough? From the Guardian:
“The London offices of BP and Shell have been raided by European regulators investigating allegations they have ‘colluded’ to rig oil prices for more than a decade. The European commission said its officers carried out ‘unannounced inspections’ at several oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway to investigate claims they may have ‘colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency [PRA] to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products … It warned: ‘Even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers.'”
Of course, these manipulations of “self-policing” mechanisms for setting prices are endemic across the economic heights commanded by our most illustrious financial and industrial elites, as Matt Taibbi noted last month. And I’m sure the dastardly deeds of the oil companies in fixing prices will be dealt with just as harshly and thoroughly as the recent Libor scandal was: with a few chump-change fines that put not the slightest crimp in the criminals’ operations nor impeded their ready access to the inner circles (and outer fundraisers) of government power.
So while continuing a fierce vigilance against the relentless encroachments of an unhinged, unrestrained and openly murderous government, let us also recognize that the “free market” — often posited as some kind of purer alternative to the state, a mystic realm where the free play of individual desires and activities combine ineffably to produce the best of all possible worlds — is, and always has been, a rigged game where vicious predators seek tyrannical control, by hook, crook and vast corruption, shackling the “free play of individual desires and activities” in every way possible to squeeze out more unjust advantage for themselves.
Of course, the “state” and the “free market” are simply two halves of the same rough beast. The modern “free market’ is the result of massive, continual and pervasive state intervention on its behalf — that is, on behalf of the vicious predators exercising tyrannical control of economic activity — while the state is in practice little more than a vehicle for elite aggrandizement. (Yes, even in America, even from the very beginning. For more, see this piercing piece by Arthur Silber, in which he points us to the remarkable book by Terry Boulton, Taming Democracy: “The People,” the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution, which I highly recommend .) If they don’t get you with one head, they’ll get you with the other.
Or as the old song says: “nobody save you now.”
The owners of The OSSL Company who have blown the whistle on a massive police corruption scandal in Ireland sponsored by Shell, are intending to confront the board of Royal Dutch Shell Plc at the AGM being held in The Hague on Tuesday 21 May.
Desmond Kane and Neil Rooney of OSSL say that they have been threatened by Shell with imprisonment and black listing if they continue to spill the beans.
What started out several years ago as Shell paying for some free alcohol given as festive gifts to a few local Garda, expanded in more recent years into a river of free booze for hundreds of Garda officers policing environmental protests against the controversial Corrib Gas Project.
We are talking about bribery and corruption. How could the Garda be impartial when so many officers were being personally rewarded by Shell. The integrity of the Garda has been damaged as a consequence of Shell’s actions.
Note that we have dropped any legal preamble such as “alleged”.
We are satisfied that the evidence we have seen, including leaked Shell emails, is authentic.
If Shell and/or the Garda dispute the facts as stated, then please sue us for defamation.
Lets get this dirty laundry aired in open court.
So what’s the prospect of either party actually issuing proceedings? None at all. They know that truth is a complete defence.
Tagged: Corrib Gas Project · Gas · Ireland · John Donovan · Litigation · Royal Dutch Shell Plc
Opinion: Shell, with its enthusiastic embrace of fracking, has a credibility problem
‘Shell faces up to climate change challenge” ran the headline in this paper last week. I wish it were true but the company has a credibility problem when it comes to the issue. It is betting everything on the presumption that we will keep burning the fossil fuels that it keeps pulling up out of the ground.
It is hard for Shell to be talking climate one minute and a new “golden age of gas” the next. It is a major player in the energy game and that cannot but affect how it sees our energy future.
It makes sense when Shell says that the capture and storage of carbon in power stations will be one of the solutions we will need, but relying on that crutch is not enough of a response to the scale of crisis we face. Its own New Len s Scenarios analysis recognises as much.
Shell’s scenario planning is always very professional, which makes its latest document all the more scary to read. No matter what way it slices and dices the future, it cannot seem to find a way to keep the global temperature increase beneath the 2-degree safety barrier that scientists say we should not pass.
My only hope is that Shell is missing out on what might be possible because as a fossil fuel company it cannot imagine what it might be like for us to live fossil-free. The company is sceptical that renewable power supplies can provide the energy we will need, but solar power has increased 100-fold in the last 10 years.
In Ireland, wind power alone could power our computers, run our cars and heat our homes. The price of solar and wind power is consistently falling and the finance gurus in Bloomberg New Energy Finance say that 70 per cent of all investment in power generation between now and 2030 is going to go into renewables. There is a war raging for who will be our preferred power supplier and I think Shell is backing the wrong horse. However, it is winning the PR battle hands down. The European council of energy ministers met in Dublin last month. They came out of with nothing but fear on their lips about the competitive advantage that the US now has as it fracks its way to energy independence. North Dakota is visible from space at night, as the oil companies flare off their excess natural gas. Shell is heading into the Arctic to drill and is chasing the shale gold rush right across the US and China.
It is a risky bet, not just for climate reasons but also for the known unknowns that surround the whole shale revolution. No one is certain what the long-term supply will be, whether there will be enough clean water to flush the gas out and what the real economic price of the gas is. Europe could try to beat the Americans at the shale game by drilling across the Continent or we could instead lead the alternative energy efficiency and renewables revolution.
The Shell scenario planning estimates that we will be able to bring the level of carbon emissions down to sustainable levels by the end of this century, but that might be a couple of decades too late. Is it beyond possibility that we could bring that change forward and create a stable economic system that will work as long as the sun still shines?
Eamon Ryan is leader of the Green Party and a former minister for energy