Richard Wiseman, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, has today declined to comment on an allegation that Shell has conducted industrial espionage in the USA directed at the US Navy Department, involving military information classified as secret.

In 2006, the Inspector General’s Office, Defense Security Services, US Dept. of Defense allegedly initiated a counter-intelligence operation and Shell USA was implicated as the primary ‘culprit’. The FBI had declined to take the case because they could not get an investigation through the US Attorney Generals office (Alberto Gonzalez)  without fear of reprisal.

The Houston office of DCIS (the law enforcement arm of the Department of Defense Inspector Generals ’s Office) had also tried to initiate an investigation, but it was outside their purview.

Shell was allegedly implicated by their attorneys, the law firm of Vethan and Waldrop, and Matt Waldrop, principle partner of the law firm. Shell had been attempting to gain unlawful access to technical material that had been classified as secret by the Navy Dept., Office of Naval Research in 2001. This material was the Intellectual Property of a former employee. Shell was apparently trying to ‘muscle’ their way into gaining ownership of the IP material.  This material was classified under DoE/DoD nuclear weapons classification authorities.

The classified information is believed to relate to high technology underwater acoustics, with relevance to deep water oil drilling and submarine warfare.

The above (alleged) conduct by Shell constitutes a capital crime under US law and there are no statutes of limitations regarding this conduct, for the company or the Shell officials involved.

Because of the highly classified nature of the material Shell attempted (unsuccessfully) to gain access to the matter could well trigger a ‘diplomatic’ incident as Shell is a foreign owned company, registered in Great Britain, with its head office located in The Netherlands.

The email correspondence with Shell relating to this matter can be read here.

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