CHICAGO (CN) - A former employee filed a state RICO complaint against BP, claiming the oil giant fired her for reporting the bribes it paid to run a joint venture in Ukraine.
Lillian Borich sued British Petroleum, three of its U.S. subsidiaries, and Robert Dudley, former CEO of BP and of TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil company, which she says is 50 percent owed by BP. The other half is owned by a group of Russian businessmen, the Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR) consortium, according to the complaint in Cook County Court.
Borich claims she worked in BP's Warrenville, Ill. office, from 2004 to 2007, when she was offered a job as a commercial marketing manager in Kiev, Ukraine.
Unbeknown to Borich, she says, that job would put her at the focal point of a corporate "civil war" initiated by BP's attempt to take over the entire venture. Accepting the job was "career suicide," Borich says in her complaint.
"BP Defendants scheme was coordinated by Robert Dudley and is referred to in this complaint as the Dudley Plan," according to the complaint.
The complaint states: "The Dudley Plan was essentially BP p.l.c.'s attempts to impose its will on TNK-BP with an eye to ultimately taking it over, and was facilitated by an ostensible Western-style sales and distribution network conjured up by the Boston Consulting Group and Robert Dudley in early 2006. The Dudley Plan was introduced into an environment that was not only unreceptive to such strategy, but one in which such a strategy created significant and substantial tension between BP p.l.c. and AAR and ultimately caused a civil war within TNK-BP. By the time Ms. Borich was tasked with the role of commercial marketing manager in Kiev, Ukraine the AAR partners had recognized BP p.l.c.'s power play for what it was and had implemented a counterstrategy to thwart BP p.l.c.'s attempts to gain control of BP-TNK.
"The Dudley Plan for TNK-BP was also vigorously contested by the AAR partners who comprised TNK because they viewed the Dudley Plan as incompatible with the Russian/Ukranian marketplace. The Russian/Ukrainian marketplace was then and on information and belief remains governed by personal relationships, protected territories and previously established written and unwritten rules and agreements, many of which were of questionable legality under United States law and the Laws of England and Wales, irrespective of their legality (or lack of legality), propriety or acceptance in Russia and Ukraine. BP defendants and Robert Dudley were at all times relevant to the allegations and claims contained in this complaint aware of these facts but never disclosed them to anyone, including Ms. Borich."
Borich says she was "tasked with carrying out the ulterior motives of the Dudley plan (i.e. favoring BP p.l.c. over AAR) by circumventing TNK's existing personal relationships with its re-sellers, jobbers and joint venture partners by marketing BP-TNK products directly to end customers and consumers, with no regard for these existing personal relationships, protected territories, established rules or agreements or the illegalities associated with this activity."