Investigators continue raiding BP’s Moscow office

Investigators continued searching BP’s Moscow office for a second consecutive day on Thursday in response to a claim from TNK-BP’s minority shareholders that they suffered a $3 billion loss from the failed Rosneft-BP share swap deal, a Federal court service spokesman said.

“Today investigators continued inspecting BP Exploration Operating Company’s office and withdrawing documents ordered by the Tyumen region arbitration court,” the spokesman told RIA Novosti.

The ruling follows a May suit filed by a group of minority shareholders headed by Andrei Prokhorov, who says that the collapse of the $16-billion share swap and Arctic development agreement between BP and Rosneft infringed their interests.

The tie-up was blocked by a court injunction following legal action by the AAR consortium, which represents BP’s partners in the TNK-BP Ltd Russian joint venture. It says that BP was obiged to offer cooperation with Rosneft to TNK-BP first.

The minority suit also mentions Peter Charow and Richard Sloan, two BP nominees who have served on the board of TNK-BP Holding, the listed unit of TNK-BP Ltd, who allegedly prevented TNK-BP Holding from participating in the strategic partnership with Rosneft.

Dmitry Chepurenko from Liniya Prava law firm, which represents TNK-BP Holding’s minority shareholders, said that the information received in the Wednesday search would help the shareholders increase the amount of damages claimed, currently fixed at 87.112 billion rubles (around $3 bln) mentioned in the lawsuit.

Media and analysts have said that the court action has the hallmarks of the legal tactics used by the Alfa Group, one of the three partners in AAR, though Alfa has not said it is behind the action.

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