Shell de­fends former ex­ec­u­tive in one trial but not an­other

Business Day - - International Companies - Ron Bousso Lon­don

Royal Dutch Shell has con­cluded that a Nige­rian oil­field sale where it sus­pects an ex­ec­u­tive, Peter Robin­son, took bribes was not linked to a sep­a­rate court case in which he and Shell face cor­rup­tion charges over a $1.1bn off­shore ac­qui­si­tion.

The An­glo-Dutch com­pany filed a crim­i­nal com­plaint in March against Robin­son, a former vice-pres­i­dent for sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa, say­ing he took bribes in the $390m sale of on­shore Oil Min­ing Lease (OML) 42 to a Nige­rian firm.

Robin­son is also one of sev­eral former Shell em­ploy­ees in­volved in a trial in Mi­lan, in which Shell and Italy’s Eni are ac­cused of cor­rup­tion re­lated to the $1.1bn pur­chase of a gi­ant Nige­rian off­shore field, Oil Prospect­ing Li­cence (OPL) 245.

Both the OML 42 and OPL 245 deals were signed in 2011.

Shell, the largest for­eign in­vestor in Nige­ria, said it had com­pleted an in­ter­nal re­view of the OML 42 sale process and deals Robin­son was in­volved in, and it con­cluded his only vi­o­la­tion was re­lated to OML 42.

Shell, Eni and Robin­son deny any wrong­do­ing in the OPL 245 case. Robin­son also de­nies any wrong­do­ing in the OML 42 sale.

Re­gard­ing the OML 42 sale, Shell said: “We have found no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that this was any­thing other than an iso­lated breach by a former em­ployee, op­er­at­ing de­lib­er­ately out­side of Shell sys­tems or con­trols.

“We have also found no ev­i­dence of a con­nec­tion be­tween Robin­son’s ac­tions on OML 42 and OPL 245, and we have re­con­firmed this to the Dutch pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor,” Shell said.

The com­pany filed its com­plaint against Robin­son to the Dutch pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, which con­firmed on Thurs­day it had re­ceived fur­ther in­for­ma­tion from Shell, but of­fered no ad­di­tional com­ment, say­ing it was still eval­u­at­ing all the in­for­ma­tion and de­ter­min­ing next steps.

Robin­son’s lawyer, Chiara Padovani, said her client “de­nies any al­le­ga­tions of crim­i­nal mis­con­duct in con­nec­tion with OML 42”. Robin­son “agrees with Shell’s con­clu­sion that the sale of OML 42 is un­re­lated to OPL 245”, she said.

A source told Reuters in March that doc­u­ments re­lated to the OML 42 case had been un­cov­ered after in­ves­ti­ga­tors look­ing into OPL 245 raided a house in Perth, Aus­tralia owned by Robin­son.

Mi­lan pros­e­cu­tors al­lege bribes to­talling about $1.1bn were paid, in­clud­ing to mid­dle­men, to win the OPL 245 deal for Shell and Eni. Shell has said it ex­pects the case in Italy to last many months.

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