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BP Singapore oil traders leave after probe into disputed deals

·2-min read
The logo of BP plc is seen at a BP petrol station in Liverpool on February 7, 2018.  / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A BP petrol station in Liverpool, 7 February 2018. (PHOTO: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By Serene Cheong and Alfred Cang

(Bloomberg) -- Four members of BP Plc’s Singapore-based crude oil trading team left the company this week after more than two months of internal investigations into their involvement in several disputed deals, said people with knowledge of the situation.

A manager in BP’s Asia trading team, two oil traders and an originator were placed on leave in July after their names were mentioned in court documents filed by banks that alleged suspicious transactions between other trading houses. They left the company on Sept. 30, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

A BP spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. The affected staff held portfolios focused on the company’s oil sales to Chinese customers, while the manager oversaw crude trading in the region. Details of the findings from investigations remain unclear.

Their departures come amid intense scrutiny of highly-opaque practices in Singapore, an oil-trading and financing hub, following the collapse of Hin Leong Trading (Pte) Ltd. and ZenRock Commodities Trading Pte Ltd.

Internal investigations by the oil major began after the company and BP personnel were mentioned in court filings by units of CIMB Bank Bhd. and Natixis SA against Hontop Energy (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. and Sugih Energy International Pte. Ltd. -- now renamed as Aeturnum Energy International Pte Ltd.

In some documents, their names appeared in email exchanges between trading counterparts, although the oil major said it never agreed to some of those purchases and no accusation of wrongdoing was ever made against it.

This week, BP also asked employees to stop using China’s WeChat app on their work phones as a communication method with market participants and counterparts, the people said. The recommendation follows a similar move by U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. in late-September.

(Adds details on court filings.)

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