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TNK-BP's chief executive, who was summoned to a Moscow district prosecutor's
TNK-BP's chief executive, who was summoned to a Moscow district prosecutor's office to answer new allegations against the company on Monday, failed to show up at the designated time.

Business daily Kommersant said on Monday that Robert Dudley had been summoned to the prosecutor's office over suspected violations of Russian labor and migration laws by the Russian-British oil venture.

Three men carrying boxes arrived at the prosecutor's office at 11:00 a.m. (07:00 GMT), when the meeting was set to take place. They refused to say whether they represented Dudley or whether he would arrive later.

Kommersant said the complaints had been lodged by a senior trade union official, Lev Mironov. Mironov later confirmed the suit against TNK-BP, but did not give further comment.

The paper said Dudley was supposed to provide prosecutors with documents, including vacation schedules for the last two years, payroll journals from January-May 2008, and files for personnel of TNK-BP Management, the oil venture's managing company.

The federal association of trade unions was earlier reported to have made an inquiry into the legitimacy of key company positions being taken by foreign managers, and possible abuse of Russian employees' rights.

On Tuesday, Dudley is to be questioned at the Interior Ministry's investigation department, Kommersant said, citing a source close to TNK-BP shareholders as saying the questioning would be over back tax claims on the company for 2001-2003. Dudley took the position in 2003, when the joint venture was created.

The questioning will take place amid a dispute between Russian and British shareholders of Russia's third largest oil producer, in which BP holds a 50% stake. The disagreement is believed to relate to the firm's ownership and development strategy, in particular its international expansion.

Dudley and TNK-BP's executive director and billionaire shareholder Viktor Vekselberg gave assurances late last week that the dispute would be resolved in the near future, dismissing reports that the company could be bought up by state-controlled Gazprom or Rosneft as part of the Kremlin's campaign to toughen its grip on the oil and gas sector.

The speculation has been fueled by the intense pressure the Russian authorities have put on the company this year.

In March, the Federal Security Service raided the company's headquarters and BP's Moscow office, and carried out new searches at BP last week. In March a TNK-BP employee was arrested on suspicion of industrial espionage.


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