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BP Singapore oil traders placed on leave amid disputed deals: sources

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BP Plc has placed some personnel from its Singapore-based crude oil team on leave after they were mentioned in court documents filed in disputes between banks and other trading houses, said people with knowledge of the company's move.

[SINGAPORE] BP Plc has placed some personnel from its Singapore-based crude oil team on leave after they were mentioned in court documents filed in disputes between banks and other trading houses, said people with knowledge of the company's move.

Three members of the trading staff and one manager were placed on leave late last week as internal investigations are being conducted, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

The trading staff hold portfolios focused on BP's oil sales to Chinese customers, while the manager overlooks crude trading in Asia, the people said.

A BP spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

BP isn't accused of wrongdoing. The oil major was named in court filings made by Singapore units of CIMB Bank and Natixis against Hontop Energy (Singapore) and Sugih Energy International - now renamed as Aeturnum Energy International. The banks claimed they found themselves in a US$192 million hole from funding crude oil deals involving these companies.

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Between late 2019 and early this year, lenders said in filings in the High Court of Singapore that they issued letters of credit and paid out millions of dollars on behalf of Hontop, with Sugih as the beneficiary. The banks claimed they agreed to the letters of credit after Hontop showed them documentation including supposedly binding contracts to on-sell the oil to BP. When the banks went to collect from BP, however, the oil major said it had never agreed to some of the purchases, according to the claims.

In one such transaction, at least six BP staff were identified in emailed deal recaps between Hontop and the oil major, filings show.

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