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The offices of TNK-BP, BP's Russian subsidiary. Bailiffs visited the office earlier today in connection with a shareholder's lawsuit. MISHA JAPARIDZE/AP

BP's Moscow office searched by bailiffs in shareholder's lawsuit

A minority shareholder in BP says the company allowed an Arctic exploration to fall through – and has sent the bailiffs in.

RUSSIAN BAILIFFS have searched BP’s office in Moscow because of a minority shareholder’s lawsuit, the company says, describing the raid as illegal.

BP’s Russian spokesman Vladimir Buyanov told AP that the company was cooperating with the bailiffs, despite the raids, but said that no documents had yet been seized and that the situation in the office was “calm.”

The search is connected with a lawsuit in a Siberian court. Andrei Prokhorov, an obscure minority shareholder of BP’s Russian venture TNK-BP, is suing the British oil giant for allowing an Arctic exploration deal with the Russian state-owned energy firm Rosneft to fall through.

Prokhorov believes his interests were harmed, as TNK-BP could have benefited from becoming part of the deal, and is seeking some $3 billion (€2.07bn) in damages.

In London, BP spokesman David Nicholas said the company does not think that “there is any legitimate basis for the raid today”, and added that the work of the BP office was “illegally being interfered with.”

The multibillion Arctic deal between BP and Rosneft collapsed earlier this year after Soviet-born TNK-BP shareholders contested the deal. They said BP was breaking TNK-BP’s shareholder agreement by entering into a deal without the venture’s knowledge or consent.

Rosneft on Tuesday teamed up with Exxon Mobil in a landmark deal to develop offshore oil fields in the Russian Arctic. Rosneft’s spokesman said there was no way that BP could revive the Arctic deal with Rosneft now.

Dmitry Chepurenko, an attorney for Prokhorov, said bailiffs were merely enforcing Tuesday’s ruling of the Tyumen Court of Appeal, which had ordered BP to present documents related to its planned strategic partnership with Rosneft.

Associated Foreign Press