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TNK-BP wins record tax rebate in Russia worth almost £215m

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The Independent: TNK-BP wins record tax rebate in Russia worth almost £215m

By Nick Clark

Thursday, 8 May 2008

 

BP has won its largest ever tax rebate in Russia, worth almost 10bn roubles (£215m), after overpaying on its taxes two years ago.

 

This comes as welcome news for the oil giant’s joint venture in the country, which has come under intense pressure from the Russian government this year.

The Moscow arbitration court this week upheld a previous ruling by a lower court to refund 9.7bn roubles overpaid by TNK-BP in value added tax two years ago. The £13bn joint venture won the right to claim its tax back after a year-long case as export operations are exempt from the country’s 18 per cent VAT.

The sum is usually refunded from a court process after the company has filed the appropriate documents. The procedure on reclaiming tax is relatively routine and a spokesman for the group said there were “quite a few” other rebates currently being sought through a similar court process.

This provides some welcome relief for the group after inc-reased scrutiny from the Kremlin. At the end of last month TNK-BP was forced to tell almost 150 staff members not to turn up at work after the authorities said their visas were no longer valid.

The previous week a junior worker and his brother, a consultant to the company, had been arrested and charged with industrial espionage in a raid by the Federal Security Service.

BP also faces further pressure from the deputy head of the natural resources ministry, Oleg Mitvol. Last month, he confirmed the ministry was to investigate Samotlor, the joint venture’s biggest oilfield. Last year, he threatened to strip BP of its licence to operate the prize Kov-ykta field, which the group later sold to energy giant Gazprom.

Pressure from Mr Mitvol two years ago led rival Royal Dutch Shell to sell part of its holding in the Sakhalin 2 field.

Speculation that the Russian State is pressurising TNK-BP to allow a state company to take a stake has swirled around the group for some months. The venture released a statement two weeks ago saying it was not looking to sell and “we aren’t in discussions to sell”.

TNK-BP, whose ownership is split between the UK group and three oligarchs, accounts for a fifth of the blue-chip group’s global oil production.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/tnkbp-wins-record-tax-rebate-in-russia-worth-almost-163215m-822937.html

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