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18 Jul, 2008 02:44

TNK-BP conflict enters ‘new phase’ as CEO's visa is extended 10 days

The conflict between shareholders in the TNK -BP oil company continues with company head Robert Dudley telling reporters it has reached a new phase. The Federal Migration Service has on Friday extended his working visa by 10 days.

The Russian shareholders in TNK-BP accuse Dudley of discriminating against Russian employees. They say he hasn't even got a valid employment contract as CEO.

Dudley says his contract ran until the end of last year but that it was never formally terminated and under Russian labour law he is still employed.

Evgeny Reyzman, Partner at Baker and McKenzie, and Head of Employment and Migration Law Practice told RT,

To renew the authority, to renew the contract we need a special decision of the board. But if the previous decision was not limited or the term is still valid then actually Mr Dudley is still an employee but without a contract, but this is a technical infringement of Russian labour law.  If his term has expired, it is impossible to renew this contract.

Meanwhile AAR Group – the Russian shareholders with a 50% stake in TNK-BP – have replied to Dudley statements, calling them a 'misrepresentation of the issue of his employment status'.

In a statement released by AAR, its CEO Stan Polovets insists Mr. Dudley does not have a valid contract as it hasn't been prolonged. Polovets says a new one-year contract with Dudley hasn't been signed because of the underperformance of the business and Mr. Dudley’s insistence on managing the company as a BP subsidiary.

The Federal Migration Service has on Friday extended his working visa by 10 days. It will now expire on July 27.

Speaking to journalists after the announcment Dudley said,

I received a visa that allows me to continue working for ten more days until the 27th of July, until we can be clear and sort out the validity of my employment contract, which I believe is indefinite. But theres a number of questions and this gives me time to work, as well as answer some of the additional questions of the authorities. I Thought that was very cooperative.