NigeriaRecording shine harsh light on Shell’s Nigerian oil deal

Published 15 April 2017

Just hours after the Dutch police raided the offices of Royal Dutch Shell last year as part of an investigation into a controversial $1.3 billion Nigerian oil deal, Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of the oil giant, placed a worried call to its chief financial officer. The investigators were “quite forceful and brusque” and “rattled a few people,” van Beurden told the finance chief at the time, Simon Henry, when Henry returned his call. But van Beurden said he was also worried about something else: Shell’s own investigators had discovered internal emails that could cast the company in an even more negative light and widen the investigation by drawing in the United States law enforcement authorities. In what he called “loose chatter,” van Beurden told Henry — who had been on leave — that the emails among employees contained language like, “I wonder who gets a payoff here.”