'Complete urban myth': BP finance chief refutes reports that CEO Bob Dudley was poisoned in Russian plot

  • Bob Dudley, the American boss of the British oil major, was thought to have been forced to leave Moscow in 2008 after blood test results showed he was slowly being poisoned, British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph reported, citing a former employee of BP.
  • "I think it is a complete urban myth and there is absolutely no substance to that story that we're aware of within the company," BP chief financial officer, Brian Gilvary told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday.
  • Rumors of the plot — which was said to have been orchestrated by Russian security services — first circulated in 2014.

BP's finance chief does not believe there is any evidence to support the story that the oil giant's chief executive was once poisoned in a Russian plot.

Bob Dudley, the American boss of the British oil major, was thought to have been forced to leave Moscow in 2008 after blood test results showed he was slowly being poisoned, British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph reported, citing a former employee of BP.

"I think that firmly sits in the category of urban myth," Brian Gilvary told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday. "I served on the TNK board for two terms, one with Bob and one when Bob left, but the story seems to do the rounds every three, four or five years."

"I think it is a complete urban myth and there is absolutely no substance to that story that we're aware of within the company," he added.

Rumors of the plot — which was said to have been orchestrated by Russian security services — first circulated in 2014.

At the time of the alleged incident, Dudley was running a profitable joint venture called TNK-BP.

Robert 'Bob' Dudley, chief executive officer of BP Plc.
Christophe Morin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Robert 'Bob' Dudley, chief executive officer of BP Plc.

BP-Russia relationship is 'good'

The Sunday Telegraph reported Russian authorities were looking for ways to oust Dudley, and about 150 other Western executives, from the country. It was then suggested that Russian intelligence agency FSB decided to administer a harmful toxin into Dudley's bloodstream.

When asked how he would describe BP's relationship with Russian partners in light of recent reports, Gilvary replied: "TNK-BP was a great (and) very successful joint venture but it could be noisy at times with some of our partners. I think the difference today is actually the relationship is with oil and gas people. It's Rosneft — it's an oil and gas company and we have a very good working relationship on the ground.

"But the relationship is good… and it is very different to what we had with TNK-BP."

Around five years after Dudley left Russia, TNK-BP was sold to Rosneft.

In return, BP was paid a £12 billion ($16.3 billion) lump sum and given a 12.5 percent stake in the state-owned company.