BRIAN WATT: A sigh of relief for the former head of oil giant Shell. Sir Philip Watts will not be prosecuted for overstating the company's oil and gas reserves. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

STEPHEN BEARD: Sir Philip resigned from Shell two years ago after it emerged that the company had systematically exaggerated its reserves. Shell had overstated its proven oil and gas by 23% or four and a half billion barrels.

America's financial watchdog, the SEC, fined the company $120 million at the time. But it's just announced that it won't press charges against Sir Phillip and two other executives.

So the company gets a hefty fine but no individual takes the heat. A fact of corporate life, says Damien Reece of the Daily Trelegraph:

DAMIEN REECE: Where you have a complex organization with decisions taken by teams of people and groups of people, then it's going to be very difficult to pin the blame on any individual. There's an element of collective responsibility here.

Sir Philip and his former colleagues are not completely in the clear. They still face class action lawsuits by aggrieved shareholders in Shell.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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