Shell denies auditor refused to sign accounts

Royal Dutch/Shell on Sunday denied a newspaper report that its joint auditor KPMG had refused to sign off accounts due last Friday because of worries over the quality of information.

“The accounts were not presented to the auditors because of the delay with respect to the reserves data,” said a spokesman.

“The decision was made by the board not to publish the accounts pending much greater clarity on the reserves situation, with the completion of the reserves review,” he added.

KPMG and Shell had earlier declined to comment on the report in the Sunday Times which said KPMG, which jointly audits the oil group's accounts with PricewaterhouseCoopers, refused to sign them off because they were not convinced the information was reliable.

Shell said on Thursday it was necessary to delay the release of its annual report pending a detailed review of the reserves position, led by new head of Exploration and Production Malcolm Brinded.

That news coincided with a fresh blow to investor confidence, as the firm cut its oil and gas reserves for the second time this year.

Two bosses have so far lost their jobs and billions of dollars have been wiped off Shell's stock market value since the first revision in January.

The company's senior non-executive directors are scheduled to meet with top investors on Monday.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

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