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Russia may refuse visa for TNK-BP’s chief Dudley

The Independent

Russia may refuse visa for TNK-BP’s chief Dudley

By Sarah Arnott

Friday, 18 July 2008

BP and its Russian oligarch partners in TNK-BP were at daggers drawn again yesterday over the status of Robert Dudley, the joint venture’s chief executive.


The long-running saga over visas for TNK-BP’s non-Russian staff appeared to be coming to an end when, earlier this week, 48 of the 49 requested work permits were granted. But then Federal Migration Service officials told Moscow journalists that Mr Dudley’s visa application might yet be denied because of questions over the validity of his employment contract.

BP expressed “displeasure” at the suggestion yesterday. Mr Dudley’s contract ran until December 2007 but under Russian law it will roll on until formally terminated, the company says. “Mr Dudley has a legally valid employment contract and a work permit in place,” a formal statement said. “His positions as chief executive of TNK-BP and chairman of the management board remain in force.”

But AAR, the billionaire-backed investment vehicle that owns 50 per cent of TNK-BP and has repeatedly called for Mr Dudley’s dismissal, responded with the accusation that BP was “misrepresenting” the issue.

Stan Polovets, the chief executive of AAR, said: “We cannot understand how, in light of the public demands by the chairman of the board and 50 per cent of the board members for the CEO to step down, Mr Dudley continues to insist that his contract has been extended.”

In a further twist, a group of TNK-BP employees, including a senior lawyer, called a press conference yesterday to say they are filing a lawsuit against Mr Dudley alleging discrimination against Russian staff, violation of labour laws and managing the company without a valid contract.

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