Shell reviews deals involving ex-executive accused of bribery

The logo of a Shell gas station is pictured in Ulm, Germany. The firm has concluded that a Nigerian oilfield sale where it suspects an executive took bribes was not linked to a separate court case. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Shell reviews deals involving ex-executive accused of bribery

  • Shell says ex-executive took bribes in oilfield sale, but former executive denies any wrongdoing
  • Shell sees no link to Nigeria oilfield graft case in Italy

LONDON: Royal Dutch Shell has concluded that a Nigerian oilfield sale where it suspects an executive took bribes was not linked to a separate court case in which he and Shell face corruption charges over a $1.1 billion offshore acquisition.
The Anglo-Dutch company filed a criminal complaint in March against Peter Robinson, a former vice president for sub-Saharan Africa, saying he took bribes in the $390 million 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 $1.1 billion 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 in a statement to Reuters that it had completed an internal review of the OML 42 sale process and other 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.
Shell filed its complaint against Robinson to the Dutch prosecutor.
The Dutch prosecutor’s officer 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.” She also said Robinson “agrees with Shell’s conclusion that the sale of OML 42 is unrelated to OPL 245.”
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 $1.1 billion 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.


US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

Updated 10 December 2018
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US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister held talks Monday with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, after the Kingdom and its allies defied US pressure to cut oil production in a bid to prop up prices.
They discussed the “state of the oil market” and energy cooperation between the two countries during a meeting in eastern Dhahran city, the minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said on Twitter.
Perry tweeted that he discussed the need for “open, free, and fair markets with the Saudis.”
OPEC members and 10 other oil producing nations, including Russia, on Friday agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day from January in a bid to reverse recent falls in prices.
The decision came even as US President Donald Trump demanded that the cartel boost output in order to push prices down.
But Al-Falih shrugged off the pressure last week, saying “we don’t need permission from anyone to cut” production.
The US “is not in a position to tell us what to do,” he told reporters ahead of Friday’s OPEC meeting in Vienna.
Last week, for the first time in decades, the United States — which is not a member of OPEC — was a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products.
It was the latest sign of how the shale boom has lifted the US standing on global petroleum markets, prompting talk of “energy dominance” by Trump.
Perry’s visit to Dhahran came as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled state oil giant Aramco’s plan for a new energy megaproject in the area known as the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK).
The energy park is expected to attract an initial investment of $1.6 billion, Aramco said.