TNK-BP CEO fined $125 for breaking Russian labor code rules

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MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian labor regulator has fined TNK-BP CEO Robert Dudley and the oil company 3,000 rubles ($125) and 40,000 rubles ($1,650), respectively, for violations of the labor code.

Mikhail Malyuga, of the Moscow city labor inspectorate, said the company had been given a month to "rectify the situation."

Russian prosecutors said on Friday that they had uncovered a number of minor labor code violations committed by the Russian-British oil company, which is also embroiled in a bitter shareholder dispute.

The prosecutor earlier said the check had been carried out following an inquiry lodged by a trade union association into the legitimacy of key TNK-BP positions being held by foreign managers and the possible abuse of Russian employees' rights.

BP, which holds 50% in the joint venture, recalled 148 foreign employees in Russia over alleged visa problems in March. The move came amid mounting pressure on the company after a police raid of the joint venture's Moscow office and the arrest of an employee on industrial espionage charges.

A consortium of Russian billionaire shareholders, holding the other 50% stake in the joint venture, have also complained that BP has appointed too many foreigners to top-management positions.

They also demanded the dismissal of the BP-appointed CEO, Robert Dudley, who they accused of acting in favor of the British oil major, and greater clout in establishing the company's strategy.

The Russian investors said earlier this month they would go to an international arbitration court in Stockholm and Russian courts to challenge BP's refusal to meet their demands. BP executives said the Russian partners have used methods employed by so-called corporate raiders in the early 1990s.

Analysts have suggested that the dispute could result in the oil company being taken over by a state-controlled energy giant as part of the Kremlin's campaign to strengthen its grip on the oil and gas sector.

Set up in 2003, TNK-BP is Russia's third largest producer. It accounts for a quarter of BP's overall output.

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