Oil and Gas

TNK-BP CEO to answer tax questions in Russia

MOSCOW, June 10 (Reuters) - The chief executive of BP's BP.L Russian joint venture is scheduled on Tuesday to be questioned as a witness in a tax probe case, a source close to the Russian company said.

The source said TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS Chief Executive Robert Dudley will arrive at the local interior office in the morning.

He added Dudley was required to visit the prosecutors’ office in person and cannot send representatives as he did on Monday, when he was to meet district prosecutors on TNK-BP’s compliance with the Russian labour code.

TNK-BP is the subject of a fierce dispute over strategy and ownership between BP, which owns 50 percent, and a group of four Russian oligarchs, which owns the other half. Analysts have suggested the possible takeover by a state firm might be behind the dispute.

TNK-BP declined to comment on Tuesday. The firm said last week an Interior Ministry department had issued a summons to Dudley as part of a tax probe into TNK’s activities between 2001 and 2003, prior to the formation of TNK-BP.

TNK was the base on which the Russian-British joint venture was formed in 2003.

Dudley’s involvement in legal investigations is the latest in a succession of problems faced by TNK-BP in recent months, which have included the arrest of an employee on an industrial espionage charge, a raid on the company’s central Moscow offices and a court injunction to stop it using BP specialists.

The pressure on TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil producer, points to the likelihood the firm will have to sell a stake to a state firm such as gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM, analysts said. (Reporting by Tanya Mosolova)