What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us

Shell execs won’t face charges

Stephen Beard Aug 31, 2006
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Shell execs won’t face charges

Stephen Beard Aug 31, 2006
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

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.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.