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TNK-BP CEO Escapes Russia Ban, Fined $21

Robert Dudley
MOSCOW -- Chief Executive Robert Dudley of BP's troubled Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, has escaped a possible three-year ban from doing his job in a Moscow court that said he violated the Russian Labor Code.

Dudley is managing TNK-BP from abroad after he left Russia last month amid a fierce shareholders' dispute between the British major and a quartet of Soviet-born billionaires, who own the other half of Russia's No. 3 oil producer.

"The court...has confirmed the fact that TNK-BP's Robert Dudley has committed a violation and has been fined," TNK-BP said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

Dudley was fined 500 rubles ($21.20), a court official told reporters after the hearing.

The court case over labor violations could have ultimately seen the BP-nominated CEO barred for three years.

The court case, initiated by Russia's state labor agency, raised questions about TNK-BP's use of foreign employees. BP's local partners have also complained about the use of foreign workers and secondees from BP.

TNK-BP's shareholders are locked in a public battle over strategy and management at the firm, which produces a quarter of BP's global output.

The Russian side of the firm has demanded Dudley's resignation, accusing the executive of poor performance and favoritism toward BP.

Dudley, who left Russia after failing to receive his visa and saying he and the company were subject to a campaign of harassment, has not disclosed his whereabouts.