Commission raps Shell Foundation

Mathew Little

The Shell Foundation has been reprimanded by the Charity Commission over its presence at a meeting between Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development, and the chairman of Shell UK.

The commission said the foundation, an independent registered charity, risked its reputation by attending.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the foundation's director discussed Shell's Sahkalin-2 gas project at the meeting.

"It's important for any charity that's connected with a commercial company to ensure that it promotes the charity's interests, not the commercial ones," said Sarah Atkinson, head of corporate affairs at the Charity Commission.

"You mustn't only be independent, you must be seen to be independent."

Kurt Hoffman, director of the Shell Foundation, said the charity's intentions - to discuss the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, a public/private partnership to improve Africa's investment conditions - were "entirely legitimate". But the foundation is to review its risk assessment procedures.

- See News analysis, page 10.

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