Scott + Scott, LLC Represents Securities Purchasers in Yet Another
Restatement Accounting Fraud Case
Scott + Scott, LLC a law firm based in Connecticut with offices in Ohio and California, announces that it has filed a
securities fraud action on behalf of purchasers of the securities, including
the common stock traded in overseas markets and the American Depository
Receipts trading on the NYSE, of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (“Royal Dutch”)
(NYSE: RD ) and/or The Shell Transport and Trading Company, PLC (“Shell
Transport”) (NYSE: SC) between December 3, 1999 and January 9, 2004, inclusive
(the “Class Period”), seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).
A copy of the complaint filed in this action
is available from the Court, or can be viewed at http://www.scott-scott.com. You can
contact Scott + Scott, LLC at 800/404-7770 (CT time) or 800/332-2259 (CA
On February 19, 2004, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group announced that the
Securities and Exchange Commission had begun a formal investigation into the
Company’s surprise restatement of its oil and natural gas reserves.
The action is pending in the United States District Court for the District
of New Jersey against defendants Royal Dutch, Shell Transport, Shell Petroleum
N.V., the Shell Petroleum Limited, Maarten van der Bergh, Judy Boynton,
Malcolm Brinded, S.L. Miller, Harry J.M. Roels, Paul D. Skinner, M. Moody-
Stuart, Jeroen van der Veer, and Philip R. Watts. According to the complaint,
defendants violated federal securities laws (sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, and
all amendments thereto) by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to
the market during the Class Period.
The complaint alleges that defendants deliberately violated accounting
rules and guidelines relating to oil and gas reserves which resulted in a
material overstatement of oil and gas reserves, the eventual disclosure of
which damaged purchasers of Royal Dutch and Shell Transport securities and
negatively impacted the investment community.
The complaint alleges that Royal
Dutch and Shell Transport had classified and reported, in SEC filings and
other public documents, certain reserves as “proved reserves” from a project
off the western coast of Australia called the Gorgon Joint Venture (and other
projects in Nigeria). In fact, without the investors knowledge, the reserves
did not meet SEC and industry requirements necessary to be classified as
“proved,” and were improperly reported as such in Royal Dutch’s and Shell
Transport’s financial reports.
These reports were therefore materially and
artificially inflating a key measure of the companies’ financial position and
competitive standing. As a result of these material misrepresentations, Royal
Dutch and Shell Transport’s true value in the marketplace was severely
overstated and misunderstood.
On January 9, 2004, Royal Dutch announced that it was going to write-down
its proved oil and gas reserves by 20%, or 3.9 billion barrels, from 19.5
billion barrels to 15.6 billion barrels. The write-down: (a) cut Shell’s
reserve life from 13.4 years to 10.6 years; (b) increased its worldwide 5-year
average reserve replacement cost per barrel from $5.49 to $12.57 — $7.06, or
128% greater than the industry average of $5.51; (c) increased Shell’s finding
and development costs to $7.90 per barrel — well above the costs of its
competitors; and (d) reduced Shell’s Appraised Net Worth downward by up to
7.1%, or $9.6 billion.
Following the announcement, Royal Dutch ADRs fell 7.87%
from $52.76 to $48.61 on the NYSE and Royal Dutch ordinary shares fell by
7.10% from the U.S. equivalent of $52.91 to $49.15 on the Amsterdam exchange.
Shell Transport ADRs were down 6.96% from $44.81 to $41.69 on the NYSE and
Shell Transport ordinary shares were down 6.84% on the London exchange from
the U.S. equivalent of $7.36 to $6.86. In addition, Moody’s placed the AAA
rating of Royal Dutch and Shell Transport under review for possible downgrade
because the write-down materially and adversely affected the companies’
Following the belated disclosure, most analysts and commentators concluded
that, because of the magnitude of the write-down and the clear SEC and
industry guidelines relating to reserve classification, the reserve
overstatements could not have been a result of error or accident, but rather,
that the reserves were knowingly overstated to preserve the companies’ credit
rating and to shore up their competitive position.
If you bought the securities (including ordinary shares and/or ADRs) of
Royal Dutch and/or Shell Transport, between December 3, 1999 and January 9,
2004 and sustained damages, you may, no later than March 26, 2004, request
that the Court appoint you as lead plaintiff.
A lead plaintiff is a
representative party that acts on behalf of other class members in directing
the litigation. In order to be appointed lead plaintiff, the Court must
determine that the class member’s claim is typical of the claims of other
class members, and that the class member will adequately represent the class.
Under certain circumstances, one or more class members may together serve as