TNK-BP faces Russian tax probe as shareholders vote against ousting CEO

Mumbai: Close on the heels of a lost bid by Russian shareholders of BP's joint venture TNK-BP to remove the firm's British chief executive Robert Dudley, Russian tax inspectors today slapped the troubled joint venture with fresh tax demands.

The board of TNK-BP voted against the shareholders' demand to sack Dudley at an emergency meeting. The meeting was called by Viktor Vekselberg, part of the AAR consortium that owns 50 per cent of TNK-BP. A motion requesting BP to nominate a new independent candidate was also rejected.

Robert Dudley CEO BP-TNKRussian shareholders of TNK-BP say that while they hold half the stake in the joint venture, the joint venture is being run from the UK by BP as an extension of the UK firm.

Russian tax authorities have now sought information on a group of foreigners employed or connected with TNK-BP, including time sheets, certification of business trips and passport copies showing foreign travel.

TNK-BP has been asked to submit information on these for a two-year period from January 2006 to December 2007 within 10 days or face penalties.

The fresh probe also comes hours after British prime minister Gordon Brown raised concerns about harassment of the company and its officials with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the G8 meeting in Japan.