21 April 2004
HM QUEEN BEATRIX OF THE NETHERLANDS Shell Shareholders Org
Huis ten Bosch Palace 847a Second Avenue
The Hague New York
The Netherlands NY 10017 USA
Your Gracious Majesty
THE ROYAL DUTCH SHELL GROUP
I last wrote to you on 1st March 1999. I did so in the knowledge that your esteemed family is one of the largest single shareholders in Shell. I warned you about what I described as “a culture of deception and cover-up deeply ingrained at the highest levels of Shell”.
In this connection, I noticed an article in The Sunday Times on 21 March 2004, which stated: "Shell’s management will be further embarrassed by the revelation that the Dutch royal family has lost nearly £250m through the collapse in the company’s share price". Unfortunately it seems fair to say in view of current events that my warning has turned out to be devastatingly accurate.
I have for a number of years been a lone voice expressing grave doubts about the integrity of Shell senior management figures, who happen to be the same individuals named in the recent US class action law suits alleging fraud and deceit - charges which, based on current news reports, seem well-founded.
Many people must have thought I was a crazy old man (I am 87 on 22 April). I therefore feel vindicated by the headlines in today’s newspapers about a once much respected brand which many people rightly held in affection e.g.: -
The Independent: “Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis”
The Guardian: “Trail of emails reveals depths of deceit at the heart of Shell”
The Scotsman: “Shell admits reserve 'lies'”
Daily Telegraph: “Memos expose Shell's years of lying”
London Evening Standard: “Shell bosses lied to the City”
Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Dutch/Shell Group exec was 'sick and tired' of lying”
I founded the Shell Shareholders Organisation because of the problems my family encountered with Shell after enjoying a mutually successful business relationship with them for many years. Unfortunately we later found it necessary to sue Shell in the High Court for stealing business ideas from us. Shell settled the first three claims for a total of £260,000 plus costs. When we sued again, Shell hired undercover agents as part of a plan to go on the offensive against us.
My family, our key witnesses and even our lawyer were besieged and intimidated by undercover operatives. Burglaries were carried out at the residences of these individuals and key documents privileged and otherwise were examined. Thus the integrity of our documents was compromised. Threats were also made. A former Shell Manager became too frightened to give evidence on our behalf.
Shell and its London Solicitors, DJ Freeman, admitted in writing the activities of one undercover agent who was caught in the act of illegally checking our mail. They advised my son in writing that other agents were investigating us, but denied that any of them had committed burglaries or made threats against us.
We wrote to senior Shell managers – including some of the same individuals now named in US class action law suits against Shell (one for $15 billion dollars according to BBC Radio). They all ignored my protestations about the clandestine activity.
They also ignored evidence of improper conduct by Shell managers conducting a tendering process for a major contract. Companies who thought they were participating in an honest process were deliberately deceived and cheated. 35 companies tendered for the contract yet it was awarded to a firm which did not participate; a company with whom the Shell manager running the tendering process had a personal relationship. Shell senior management also ignored evidence of an email circulated by the same manager to senior colleagues (in relation to the same project) which contained the following illuminating comment: “My note of 25/10 expressed a personal and pragmatic view of how to handle the problem – it is in fact illegal and is certainly unofficial, and if we were discovered then we will enforce the official position…”
I only recently discovered to my consternation that some of the same titled Shell directors to whom I wrote bringing these matters to their attention, including a former Shell Group Chairman were simultaneously the spymasters/shareholders of a shadowy spying organization called Hakluyt, closely linked with the British Secret Service. Hakluyt is staffed by former MI6 officers. Shell has admitted using Hakluyt agents including a serving German Secret Service agent to engage in undercover missions against worthy organisations campaigning against Shell e.g. Greenpeace and Body Shop. This “cloak and dagger” activity was exposed by The Sunday Times in a front page story.
When the Police investigated at Shell UK’s London HQ the threats, burglaries and espionage activity in our case, Shell did not disclose its ties with Hakluyt, an organisation well versed in the same tactics which had been directed against us.
In addition to the covert operations against us and various worthy NGO’s including Greenpeace and Body Shop, Shell simultaneously set up and paid for a private army of 1400 Police spies supporting the then murderous regime in Nigeria ( Mail on Sunday article 4 April 04 “Shell Chief had a private army”). The “Shell Chief” in question was Sir Philip Watts.
Under the circumstances the cover-up, deception and intrigue at Shell regarding the shortfall in oil and gas reserves holds no great surprises to me. I have felt like my family was up against the mafia, not the great company I once admired.
Please visit shell2004.com to read my sworn Affidavit concerning these matters. You will also find the world’s most comprehensive news portal website covering the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. I am sending a similar letter to the major Pension Funds/investors in Shell. I believe they will be appalled by what I have to say.
Chairman Shell Shareholders Organisation (email:firstname.lastname@example.org)
COPY OF PREVIOUS LETTER
1st March 1999
HM QUEEN BEATRIX OF THE NETHERLANDS
Huis ten Bosch Palace
I am writing to you concerning the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, which owns a controlling interest in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. The “Royal” prefix confers immense prestige on this multi-national giant.
The Brent Spar and Nigerian PR disasters have already badly tarnished its former exemplary reputation, when we could all “be sure of Shell”. Now we have a third global PR debacle for the Shell brand. A combination of difficult market conditions and thoroughly incompetent management has caused a financial meltdown at Royal Dutch/Shell that has hit the headlines around the world. This has inflicted further damage to Shell’s reputation.
The crisis has now reached the stage whereby Group Chairman, Mr Moody-Stuart, is reportedly contemplating merging Royal Dutch and Shell Transport into one company. There is even speculation about which HQ will be closed, Shell Centre in London or The Hague. Mr Moody-Stuart has recognised the growing seriousness of the crisis by admitting that he may have to resign.
I have had a ringside seat at this unsavoury spectacle of one PR disaster after another, because my family and I have been engaged in a series of legal actions against Shell. I enclose a copy of a booklet entitled “The Shell Game”, plus a selection of self-explanatory leaflets. I would respectfully draw your attention to the leaflet entitled “Return of the Robber Barons”.
The leaflet comments on Shell’s oppressive conduct against Shell station operators in the UK. No wonder that 55% of respondents in a survey of over 1500 Shell stations said that Shell operates in an unethical manner.
The same ruthless conduct has been evident in my families’ legal battles with Shell e.g. they have brought a £100,000 Counterclaim against me - an 81-year-old war pensioner. The Counterclaim is in direct contravention of a press statement issued by Shell that it would be in breach of its duties to its shareholders if it brought a legal action, whereby it would lose money even if successful. My family and I have also been bombarded by threats from Shell during the litigation.
Shell has ignored all of the arbitration and mediation proposals that we have put forward in an effort to resolve matters amicably. It appears absolutely hell bent on exploiting its huge advantage over a financially weaker opponent irrespective of the strong merits of our claim.
Despite a letter of apology for past misdeeds that we received from Shell UK Chairman, Dr Chris Fay, in 1996, Shell has continued to act in ruthless and flagrant breach of its own code of business ethics requiring honesty, integrity, and openness, in all of its dealings. After being cornered, Shell has admitted its association with outright deception carried out on its behalf by a sleazy undercover operator.
Although it is highly obnoxious for a multi-national to act oppressively against small traders, as far as I know, such conduct is not illegal. It is however even more repugnant given the false image of ethical trading projected by the Statement of General Business Principles published by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Regretfully, in reality (based on our horrendous experience), there appears to be a culture of deception and cover-up deeply ingrained at the highest levels of Shell.
Bearing all of the foregoing in mind, I have written to the President of Royal Dutch Petroleum, Mr Maarten van den Bergh, suggesting that his company should voluntarily relinquish the “Royal” prefix until such time as it succeeds in regaining its former high reputation. This action would avoid the potential embarrassment caused by the “Royal” prefix being attached to an arrogant multi-national bully, currently in a steep financial and moral decline.
Shell Shareholders Organisation
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