However, unbeknown to Van de Vijver, Michiel Brandjes (right), who was alarmed by the findings of the report, sent a copy to a New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. This meant that events were no longer in the control of Shell. Instead, Shell’s most sensitive issue since its close association with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis several decades ago, had been disclosed to an outside firm, that had to consider and protect its own reputation.
By John Donovan
In May 2003, Frank Coopman, the then Chief Financial Officer of Shell EP, delivered bad news about Shell’s operations in Nigeria to the Chief Executive of Shell EP, Walter van de Vijver.
Van de Vijver sent Coopman back to Nigeria to investigate further.
The subsequent findings, set out in a status report, were even more devastating, revealing an overstatement of 1.1 billion boe.
Van de Vijver had instructed a team led by Coopman to work on the reserves issues.
The team included a top Shell lawyer, Michiel Brandjes, the then Company Secretary of Royal Dutch Petroleum.