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TNK-BP’s Robert Dudley escapes three-year Russia ban and fined £10

Times Online
August 8, 2008

TNK-BP’s Robert Dudley escapes three-year Russia ban and fined £10

Robert Dudley, chief executive of TNK-BP, BP’s troubled Russian 50-50 joint venture, escaped a possible three-year ban from doing his job today despite a Moscow court ruling he had broken the Russian labour code.

“The court… has confirmed the fact that TNK-BP’s Robert Dudley has committed a violation and has been fined,” TNK-BP said in a statement emailed to Reuters. He was fined 500 roubles (£10.80).

Mr Dudley is remotely managing TNK-BP from abroad after he left Russia last month amid a fierce shareholders’ dispute between the British oil group and a quartet of Soviet-born billionaires, who own the other half of Russia’s third-largest oil producer.

The case, initiated by Russia’s state labour agency, raised questions about TNK-BP’s use of foreign employees.

BP’s local partners have also complained about the use of foreign workers and secondees from BP.

TNK-BP’s shareholders are locked in a public battle over strategy and management at the company, which produces a quarter of BP’s global output.

The Russian side of the joint venture has demanded Mr Dudley’s resignation, accusing the executive of poor performance and favouritism toward BP.

Dudley, who left Russia after failing to receive his visa and saying he and the company were subject to a campaign of harassment, has not disclosed his whereabouts.

Mr Dudley fled Moscow last month, blaming a campaign of harassment by AAR, the consortium of four Russian billionaires which is BP’s 50:50 joint venture partner. Since then, he has been managing the company remotely from an undisclosed location.

BP is engaged in a fierce spat with AAR, which has called for the departure of Mr Dudley, in an apparent effort to seize control of TNK-BP, Russia’s third largest producer of crude.

AAR wants the $4.4billion (£2.2billion) capital expenditure plan for this year to be cut to $3.5billion.

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