Oh what mischief they get up to at TNK-BP. Today’s Wikileaks scoop from the Telegraph reveals a whole world of junta-caressing, complot-spinning, Godfather-watching madness in the saga that sent Bob Dudley out of Russia in 2008, after a fiercely-fought battle with
Darth Vader Igor Sechin. German Khan’s ‘deranged’ antics deserves special mention. The reports are copious, so here are just a few highlights:
Speaking to US diplomats in Moscow at the height of the crisis in June 2008, Mr Dudley said the Russian billionaires wanted to expand TNK-BP’s operations into Burma, Cuba and Sudan, “which posed problems for BP given US and other Western sanctions”. According to the embassy files, one of TNK-BP’s directors, German Khan, was behind the move. “Dudley said AAR and, in particular, German Khan, had been systematically using TNK-BP resources to vet these projects.”
Once rejected by the board, they were then farmed out to one of his own companies, Norbest.
When Mr Dudley refused to allow company resources to be used for vetting these projects, he accused Mr Khan of launching a campaign against him, the papers said.
The US ambassador to Russia, William J Burns, described the tangled internal relations between BP and the billionaires as a “tale of intrigues inside intrigues”. He wrote: “As one BP official told us when the company was forming, ‘We have a love-hate relationship. They love us (our money), and we hate them (their corporate governance and management styles)’ .”
The ambassador said some observers saw the dispute as another chance for Russia to “take a slap at the British” at a time of frosty relations between the two countries.
Mr Dudley suggested the Kremlin wanted BP and the oligarchs to “fight each other to exhaustion, like ‘Siberian tigers’ and then capture the survivor” to create a third Russian major oil company.
Elements within the AAR group allegedly threatened to hold Mr Dudley “personally liable” for spending over $4 billion (£2.4bn) “without shareholder approval”, according to the cables. Mr Dudley often returned to his apartment in the evening to find that it had been broken into by government officials, who left court papers “on his kitchen table”.
The US officials told Mr Dudley they were “concerned” about his “personal safety”.