[A-List] BP watch
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Fri Mar 1 01:22:49 MST 2002
BP stops paying political parties
'Blair Petroleum' denies Enron influenced decision
Terry Macalister and Michael White
Friday March 1, 2002
BP, Britain's biggest company, is to scrap all political donations
worldwide as criticism mounts about corporate influence on government
policy, following the Enron collapse in the US and the "Garbagegate" row
The world's third-largest private sector oil group donated $840,000
(£600,000) in the US last year. Its close relations with the British
government - with key executives moving between the two - have left it
dubbed "Blair Petroleum", athough it has made no political donations in
Britain for a decade.
Lord Browne, BP's chief executive, told a meeting of the Royal Institute
of International Affairs at Chatham House in London that large
multinationals must tread warily from now on. "
"We must be particularly careful about the political process because the
legitimacy of that process is crucial both for society and for us, a
company working in that society.
"That is why we've decided, as a global policy, that from now on we will
make no political contributions from corporate funds anywhere in the
world. We'll engage in the policy debate, stating our views and
encouraging the development of ideas, but we won't fund any political
activity or any political party."
Company officials denied the Enron affair had influenced its judgment
and made clear it would not halt its lobbying of governments.
The move comes at a sensitive time for Downing Street. This month Tony
Blair was accused of helping a party donor, Indian billionaire Lakshmi
Mittal, with a Romanian steel deal - and yesterday the Guardian revealed
that another business donor, Uri David, is under investigation for
helping to launder money in Switzerland.
Last night the issue prompted a call for a "mature debate" on the
problems of party finances from the leader of the Commons, Robin Cook, a
long-time supporter of state funding for political parties.
"We cannot simultaneously say the Labour party cannot be funded by trade
unions, that no party should be funded by business and at the same time
say "you're not going to get taxpayers' money". Political parties have
to be funded by someone," Mr Cook told reporters at Westminster.
BP and rival Shell were regarded by some government ministers in the
past as arms of the foreign office and close ties remain.
The prime minister's right-hand woman Anji Hunter recently moved over to
become director of communications at BP. Company director David Simon -
now Lord Simon of Highbury - moved the other way, becoming a minister
for competitiveness in Europe.
Among other users of the revolving door between Whitehall and BP is
Byron Groat, head of chemicals at BP, who has been helping the
Department of Trade and Industry on competitiveness issues, while Bryan
Sanderson, a former head of BP's chemicals division stepped down and
became chairman of the government-backed Learning and Skills Council.
Full article at:
Mercuria Business School
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
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