Four BP Singapore oil traders leave after probe into disputed deals

Four Singapore-based crude oil traders from BP left the company after the conclusion of internal investigations.
Four Singapore-based crude oil traders from BP left the company after the conclusion of internal investigations.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Four members of BP’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 and ZenRock Commodities Trading.

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

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 US oil major Chevron in late September.