Royal Dutch Shell has agreed a $15.5m (£9.7m) out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria.

It was brought by relatives of nine anti-oil campaigners, including author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who were hanged in 1995 by Nigeria’s then military rulers.

The oil giant strongly denies any wrongdoing and says the payment is part of a “process of reconciliation”.

bbc

Human rights experts around the world generally agree that Shell was in fact involved in the killing of these people.

The trial was about to start next week. As a trial judge once said to me: “Usually, the plaintiff or the defendant folds when they get a look at the jury and the reality that they are looking for the facts and that a judgement will happen sinks in.” (Or words to that effect.)

Comments

  1. #1 Jason Thibeault
    June 9, 2009

    Holy hell. And to think I just recently switched to Shell to get air miles. Fucking air miles!! Thank you for raising awareness on the topic — in me at least.

  2. #2 calvert
    June 9, 2009

    We only happen to know about some of the things Shell had been up to. The other oil companies are probably as bad.

  3. #3 Jason Thibeault
    June 9, 2009

    Yeah, well, as soon as I can get my algae biodiesel powered hovercar, I’m all over that.

  4. #4 Art
    June 9, 2009

    Good to see them pay and feel some pain. But it would be illuminating to find out how much they profited from the Nigerian operations and compare that profit to the amount of the settlement.

    $15.5m sounds like a lot of money but if they made $15.5 billion then it is such a small fraction that there is little pain, and no deterrent effect. Small fractions of the overall profits are considered ‘the cost of doing business’.

    Reminds me of a story about the mugger who steals a couples money but after hearing their lamentations about how they won’t be able to get home gives them back enough cash for cab fare. The couple then talk effusively about how the mugger ‘was so nice’. Shake people down and abuse them. Then toss them the crumbs and watch as your portrayed as ‘one of the good guys’.

    It is also interesting that in many cases such settlements, typically without any admission of guilt or criminal liability, are tax deductible. Such deductions are often why many major corporations pay little tax.