7th February 2006


James Ross, Senior Legal Adviser
Human Rights Watch HQ
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA

Tel: 1-(212) 290-4700, Fax: 1-(212) 736-1300

Dear Mr Ross


I note that your organizations focus is understandably directed mainly towards evil regimes that resort to repression and torture.

It is a fact of life in the 21st century that some multinational companies are as wealthy, powerful and influential as many Countries. Although I know of none that resort to physical torture, I would like to draw your attention to a multinational which is using tactics against a former employee, Dr John Huong, which are so reprehensible that in my humble opinion, they amount to psychological torture.

Dr Huong, a Malaysian national, was an employee of Royal Dutch Shell for 29 years. He is a deeply religious man of the very highest integrity. He is also a humanitarian. For example, in 2003 Dr Huong offered his professional services as a geologist free of payment or compensation, to help in an Iraqi water irrigation project. I have evidence of the relevant email correspondence.

Strangely, his moral convictions actually brought about his downfall at Shell.

Shell supposedly operates within the ethical framework of a STATEMENT OF GENERAL BUSINESS PRINCIPLES (SGBP) pledging honesty, integrity, openness, fairness and respect for people, including its employees, in all of its dealings. These are the standards, values and principles by which Shell has stated that it should be judged.

Dr Huong was proud to work for a multinational which boasted such noble ideals. He believed the stirring rhetoric used by Shell senior management in speeches in which they solemnly promised to uphold the Groups ethical code. He was also impressed by the related fine words and pledges in printed materials circulated to Shell stakeholders.

Reference to the SGBP was even included by Shell in Form 20F Declarations (signed by senior Shell executives) which were submitted to the US Securities & Exchange Commission in respect of Shell’s hydrocarbon reserves position. Shell emphasised to the SEC the reliance that could be placed on the SGBP for “internal controls” and “risk management”.

The purpose of the SGBP was to impress and inspire confidence in the ethical and moral fibre of Shell management.

However, Dr Huong discovered in 1997 and the immediately following years that the SGBP are in fact empty promises – propaganda for use in the circumstances described above and in global advertising campaigns such as “Profits and Principles” or “the triple bottom-line”. The SGBP amounted to nothing more than a confidence trick to encourage the public and financial institutions into investing in Shell.

The years in which Sir Mark Moody-Stuart was Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group was a traumatic period for Shell. The Group had hoped to emulate Enron’s success at that time. Mr Paddy Briggs, a Shell veteran of 37 years standing in Shell Marketing and Corporate Communications, has said that Shell adopted “Quasi-ideological values” in response to the then monumental challenges as reflected in the financial performance of Shell.

The Shareholder’s return was so poor that Sir Mark Moody Stuart was reported in the Electronic Telegraph in the following terms: “I'll quit if Shell revamp fails, says chairman after $4bn hit” on Friday, 12th February 1999”. The admission that he had put his job on the line came after massive fourth-quarter post-tax provisions of almost $4.4 billion (£2.7 billion) to cover huge write-offs which had almost wiped out the previous year's profits. Full-year net profits ended at just $350m compared with $7.7 billion following a fourth-quarter loss of $3.7 billion against net income of $1.6 billion in the corresponding period in 1997.” In other words Shell was making huge losses rather than the recent record breaking profits.

That set the scene for what has been described as the biggest investor fraud in history. Under the management of Sir Mark, Shell appointed “value creation teams” who lived up to their description by conjuring up hydrocarbon reserve volumes which did not exist.

In January 2004 news broke of what was initially described as a scandal and then, as more facts emerged, a full blown fraud. Basically the most senior directors of the Royal Dutch Shell Group engaged in a massive fraud to deceive the public and investors about the volume of Shell’s reserves. Emails proved that the seeds were sown in 1997. Internal emails exposed the lies, dishonesty and cover-up mentality at the highest levels of Shell management.

In other words, while Shell’s most senior “fat cat” directors were proclaiming their total commitment to high ethical standards, they were simultaneously cooking the books “to fool the market” by use of outright deception. (Money Telegraph 7th April 2003: “Shell strikes back at 'fat cat' criticism”)

Shell has already paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to regulatory bodies such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission and settlements of related class action lawsuits. Other lawsuits are still in progress, as is an investigation by the US Justice Department against individual current and former Shell directors.

Dr Huong was, as far as I am aware, the first Shell employee to blow the whistle internally at Shell (in 1997) about the deliberate fabrication of hydrocarbon reserves. This was at a time when he was Shell’s production geologist for the Kinabalu oil field. I have copies of Shell internal documents which prove that Dr Huong put on record his conscience driven concern that Shell shareholders were deliberately being misled by fabricated figures. He also recorded for posterity in other Shell internal documents, serious breaches of health and safety issues which put employee lives at risk.

His objections to bending his principles by turning a blind eye to wrongdoing proved to be the turning point in Dr Huong’s previously highly successful career with Shell. He was humiliated, victimised, put under intolerable pressure which made him ill and was ultimately sacked, thereby further aggravating stress brought about by Shells actions against him. Prior to the wrongful dismissal, the domestic inquiry heard that his medical record in the care of the company doctor could not even be found. The records had mysteriously disappeared, just like Shell hydrocarbon reserves.

In June 2004 Shell obtained a High Court Injunction and a Restraining Order against Dr Huong in respect of articles posted by me under his name on my website (then known as shell2004.com).

Shell lawyers knew that the website was owned by me but pretended in the court documents that the postings were made by Dr Huong on a website known as “Shell Whistleblower No2”. In fact no such site has ever existed. It was a physical impossibility for Dr Huong to post anything directly on my original shell2004.com site which is not a blog site and therefore has no such facility. Furthermore, Shell has been aware for the past 18 months that I jointly co-authored the articles. I amended, edited and added to the content. My son John assisted me in this task.

So there were in fact three people involved. Dr Huong supplied rough drafts in correspondence and my son and I then developed commentaries to include the drafts provided by Dr Huong into news worthy articles and physically posted/published them on my site, which is hosted in North America and registered in New York. Shell has been aware of the true facts since July 2004 but has chosen to vent its fury solely on Dr Huong.

By way of background information concerning our role in these matters, my son and I have been involved in disputes with Shell since 1994. We have successfully sued them in the High Court several times for breach of confidence and breach of contract and twice for libel. We have never lost a case against Shell, despite its admitted use of undercover agents which Shell lawyers used to try to intimidate us. Shell’s actions, including the undercover activity, did however completely undermine the last High Court action. We accepted under duress a compromise settlement in which Shell paid my sons legal costs. He also received a secret payment, completely at variance with the “stalemate” scenario announced in a so called “joint press release”, actually released solely by Shell. It was not the proper settlement to which he was entitled.

In May 2005 Shell issued proceedings against me via The World Intellectual Property Organisation in respect of Shell related domain names including the dotcom name for their $223 billion dollar unified company: ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC. Shell management made a monumental blunder (one of many) in neglecting to register the domain name. I won the case with a unanimous verdict in my favour.

With regards to the subject of libel, Shell issued a press release a decade ago accusing my son and I of trying to goad them into issuing libel proceedings against us. As Shell is aware, we have a volume of documents in our possession which provide irrefutable evidence of Shell management misdeeds, including its deeply ingrained culture of cover-up and deceit. This is perhaps the explanation for Shell’s reticence to launch libel proceedings directly against us.

Shell management evidently views Dr Huong as a soft target and took draconian action against him rather than face us once more in the libel courts. The litigation involving Dr Huong has dragged on since June 2004 because Shell has insisted in pursuing its case against him in the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur which is located some 1300 kilometres from where Dr Huong lives, in Miri, near the High Court of Borneo and the Shell offices where he worked for so many years. That also seems to be an attempt to deny him a level playing field.

Dr Huong has been unemployed throughout this period and has no realistic prospects whatsoever of finding a position as a geologist while the litigation cloud hangs over his head. Hence he is short of funds (to put it mildly) and it is outrageous that a multinational which has in the last few days reported profits of $23 BILLION USD is using its massive financial advantage to further tilt the scales of justice against him.

Given his financial circumstances there is no way that Dr Huong can afford to travel and stay in Kuala Lumpur. Shell is aware of this but is cold-bloodedly using its massive financial muscle against a financially weaker opponent.

Naturally Dr Huong is depressed and distressed at the ruthless way he is being treated after being a hardworking employee for almost three decades. Unlike the directors currently still at the helm of Shell, he is not implicated or tainted by the reserves fraud. Indeed, if he had been listened to, the fraud would probably not have happened.

I enclose some information relevant to this extraordinary matter and hope that Human Rights Watch will be prepared to consider his case.

In this connection I would be grateful if you would use the links below to read up to date information about these matters.

FIRST LINK: An email sent by Dr Huong to the Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer of Shell on 2nd February 2006

http://shell2004.com/ShellNewsnet Original news stories/royal_dutch_shell_group-shell-news-net-email-to-jyoti-munsiff-2-february-2006.htm

SECOND LINK: A draft Affidavit which my son and I helped Dr Huong to prepare for possible use in his defence at some point. Neither he nor his lawyers have approved the draft but it does accurately set out the background facts, certainly in relation to the matters in which we have been personally involved. I appreciate that you must be busy man but I would be grateful if you would glance through the draft. I promise you that it reveals a truly extraordinary situation. If and when his lawyers review the draft I am sure that it will be shortened considerably. I believe the full version has merit in terms of revealing the overall background situation.

http://shell2004.com/ShellNewsnet Original news stories/royal-dutch-shell-group-draft-affidavit-of-dr-john-huong-7-febuary-2006.htm

You will see from the draft Affidavit that Dr Huong is not the only Malaysian former employee of Shell who is being treated with utter contempt by Shell. They are other cases against Shell. A Judge has already decided a case brought by a group of 399 former Shell employees known as “Team A”. He ruled that Shell made unlawful deductions in breach of the Employees Provident Fund Act 1951 and 1991. The case has dragged on for years and Shell is currently appealing the decision. In the meantime, members of the group are elderly, sick, and dying.

THIRD LINK: Information about the Team A claim.


FOURTH LINK: ROYAL DUTCH SHELL SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS & FREEDOM OF SPEECH: PR HYPE & SPIN VS. REALITY…http://www.tellshell.net/blog/_archives/2006/2/5/1746492.html

Viewed against the backdrop of the profits reported last week, Shell’s conduct against its Malaysian employees is obscene. It is also completely at odds with its decidedly more favourable treatment of its employees in Europe and the USA.

Shell management is famed for its arrogance. It seems to think that the Shell Group is so powerful that deceit, intimidation and huge cash flows will allow it to get away with tyrannical behaviour against ordinary individuals, be it Dr Huong, or the “Rossport Five” – the Irishman recently imprisoned for three months at Shell’s behest for campaigning against Shell’s plans to force a local population in County Mayo, Ireland, to accept the laying of an unsafe pipeline across their lands.

Apparently Shell is also completely unconcerned at the unseemly spectacle of a group of EIGHT giant companies collectively suing one unemployed Malaysian for telling the truth. Their lawyers have even threatened Dr Huong with imprisonment.

I hope that your organisation will be able to persuade Shell that such conduct is unbecoming and unacceptable.

Finally, I want to make it clear for the record that I have written to you without the authority of Dr Huong. I have also simultaneously published his draft Affidavit so as to put the entire content into the public domain. I have not obtained permission from Dr Huong in either instance. Dr Huong would naturally have to give a negative response out of fear of reprisals by Shell against himself or his family. However, if you are able to take up the case, I will happily put you into direct contact with him.

Yours sincerely,
Alfred Donovan

Alfred Donovan
Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com
847a Second Avenue, New York City
New York 10017

Email: Alfred@ShellNews.net
Telephone: 1 (646) 502-8756
Fax: 1 (646) 349-2605