Court order that authorized bailiffs to seize paperwork at British BP’s Moscow office in late August and early September is no longer in force. The Court of Arbitration of the Siberian Tyumen Region rescinded its own ruling on 13 September, Tuesday.
The court order was cancelled after oil giant Rosneft made an appeal on 5 September, asking court to substitute legal measures “to gather and secure evidence” (that is a withdrawal of documents) for the action brought by minority shareholders of TNK-BP Holding.
Federal Bailiff Service began searches in BP’s Moscow office under the order of the Arbitration Court of the Tyumen Region. These searches were carried out in order to gather evidence for the case of minority shareholders of TNK-BP who claim they incurred losses totaling 87 billion roubles ($2.9b) as the result of failure of merger deal between BP and Rosneft, which included their company as a BP’s offshoot. The shareholders brought legal actions against Richard Scott Sloan and Peter Anthony Cherow, who sit on the board of TNK-BP and against mother companies.
The searches are an attempt to pressure BP, Russian Mafia (rumafia.com) quotes representatives of the company. Jeremy Huck, president of BP’s Moscow office, said he considered the court order “ungrounded”. He said that the decision of the court gave bailiffs and minority shareholders, led by Andrei Prokhorov, access to virtually all documents of BP Exploration Operating Company. Huck said his company would appeal against the seizures. The appeal was indeed submitted on 8 September. The situation when bailiffs and minority shareholders have access to the documents of the company is “unacceptable and unlawful”, representatives of the company said.
The Kremlin commented on the issue of BP’s Moscow office on 12 September when UK prime minister David Cameron arrived in Moscow. Top president’s aide Sergei Prikhodko told journalist that the issue lies in the field of commerce only.
The issue was also raised at the talks between Cameron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The seizes were discussed in the presence of BP chief Robert Dudley, said first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov. Shuvalov advised Dudley that he should address Russian ombudsman with his issue.