Well, that is what they look like according to A E-P in today's Telegraph - if not something worse! I can still remember when John Brown, now Lord Brown, was chief honcho at BP and he took the huge decision to move into Russia using partnerships(!) with Russian companies as his way in. Deploying the full range of my detailed knowledge of international business - yeeeeees quite! - I remember muttering at the time something along the lines of 'there'll be tears before bedtime'. Of course, to begin with all was sweetness and light - and big profits - but alas, Brown, himself, was caught out in some minor peccadillo and resigned. By then it was becoming clear that if you shake hands with a Russian businessman you should count your fingers afterwards! In fact, there are very few Russian 'businessmen' because the vast majority, especially the mega-rich ones, are just good, old-fashioned crooks. Of course, they thrive in Putinesque Russia because the whole regime is a sink-pit of corruption.
Today, A E-P tells us that:
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has thrown the book at the Russian state, or more specifically at Vladimir Putin and his Soliviki circle from the security services.
The $51.5bn ruling against on the Kremlin unveiled this morning has no precedent in international law. The damages are 20 times larger than any previous verdict. [My emphasis]
The ruling was unanimous by the three judges who, remarkably, were all chosen by the Russians! Of course, the complainants, Yukos-MGL-Khodorkovsky, will have one hell of a job collecting because so many assets abroad are under Russian diplomatic protection and Putin will simply tell them to 'проваливай' - that's 'piss off' to you and me. However, state-owned Russian companies are not immune and one of the prime targets will be Rosneft:
What they can certainly do – and have every intention of doing – is attacking the assets of state-owned companies that act as instruments of the Russian government. Above all, they intend to pursue Rosneft, the venture built from the expropriated assets of Yukos.
That means they also intend to pursue BP (indirectly), since BP owns a fifth of Rosneft shares as a legacy from the TNK-BP debacle. [My emphasis]
Golly-gosh, what an exciting life BP leads, screwed by Obama and his biased courts for spilling a bit of oil in the Gulf, and now screwed by association with Putin and his gangsters. What was that saying about 'long spoons' and 'supping with the devil'? However, 'Vlad the Impaler' will be choking on his vodka today because this comes just as the EU finalises what actually appear to be fairly strict actions against various Russian (ie, Putin's) national banks.
I can only repeat to 'Vlad' what I have been trying to say to the Euro-fanatics in Brussels - is eastern Ukraine really worth it?