Shell finance supremo wins $1m pay-off

Judy Boynton, Shell’s former finance director who was criticised over the oil group’s massive reserves scandal, will receive a $1m (£535,000) cash pay-off, plus shares and pension worth a further $2.4m.

Shell said Ms Boynton, who “stepped aside” from her board-level position in April, would get a $1m severance payment in line with the terms of her contract.

One shareholder, Colin Morton, a fund manager at Rensberg Investment Management, said the news was “galling” and that the fault lay with her contract.

Last year, the Anglo-Dutch giant was forced to admit it had overbooked oil and gas reserves by one-fifth. The company’s then chairman, Phil Watts, and its exploration and production chief, Walter van de Vijver, were held primarily responsible for the inflated figure.

However, an independent report commissioned by Shell found that Mr Van de Vijver had sent a copy of an e-mail to Ms Boynton that referred to the market as being “fooled” on reserves, but she “took virtually no action … to inquire independently into the underlying facts relating to the ‘aggressive bookings'”. It concluded: “The compliance role of the finance function was not effective with respect to these bookings.”

Shell said yesterday that Ms Boynton, 49, who was appointed to the top finance job in 2001, had lost out on £468,650 of shares under the company’s long-term incentive plan as the criteria were not met. But she will receive other shares due to her, as she was not sacked but left by “mutual consent”. She will immediately get shares in the group’s Royal Dutch arm worth €781,069 (£545,000).

She will also receive the first tranche of 70,500 share options due to her in Shell’s American Depository Receipts, worth $371,770 at current prices. The other two tranches will become available in later years. She is also entitled to110,000-140,000 ADRs between now and the end of 2009, but these are priced above the current share price. In addition, Ms Boynton has elected to withdraw her pension pot in cash, a lump sum of £513,691.

Ms Boynton, a US citizen who became the first woman to join Shell’s board, has served as a consultant to the company since she quit in April.

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