Oil giant filed a criminal complaint to Dutch authorities
Peter Robinson already facing corruption charges in Italy
Royal Dutch Shell Plc referred a former vice president for sub-Saharan Africa Peter Robinson to the Dutch authorities, suspecting he may have committed crimes related to an asset sale in Nigeria.
The allegations of criminal misconduct by one of its employees come at a difficult time for Shell. Europe’s largest energy company and several former executives, including Robinson, are already facing a criminal trial in Milan over an alleged bribery scheme related to the separate purchase of a Nigerian oil block called OPL 245.
Shell denies any wrongdoing in that case. However, while investigating those charges Shell began to suspect that accounts in Switzerland and a company in the Seychelles in Robinson’s name were used to take kickbacks from the sale of another block called OML 42, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
“Based on what we know now from an internal investigation, we suspect a crime may have been committed by our former employee,” Shell said in an emailed statement. “We were stunned and disappointed when we learned about this.”
Robinson worked in Nigeria for Shell from 2008 to 2011 as vice president for commercial in the sub-Saharan Africa region, part of a more-than-30-year tenure with the company. His lawyer in the Milan case, Chiara Padovani, wasn’t immediately able to respond to a request for comment. She said last week that her client denies accusations of corruption made by Italian prosecutors.
Oil block OML 42, located in the Niger Delta, was sold by Shell in 2011. It produces about 100,000 barrels a day according to Neconde Energy Ltd., now the operator of the block. The deal came into focus after prosecutors in Milan alleged that in the same year Shell and Italian oil company Eni SpA paid more than $1 billion for OPL 245, knowing that much of the money would go to pay bribes to Nigerian officials.
The criminal trial in Milan also involves Shell’s former upstream director Malcolm Brinded and Eni’s current Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi. Both men deny any wrongdoing.