BP CEO Browne resigns over white lie about personal life

BP CEO Browne resigns over white lie about personal life
# 02 May 2007 10:48 (UTC +04:00)
John Browne, the long-standing chief executive of oil giant British Petroleum (BP), resigned three months earlier than planned after losing a legal battle to prevent the publication of claims he let a former boyfriend Canadian Jeff Chevalier use company resources. Browne’s designated successor, exploration and production head Tony Hayward, will take over as CEO immediately, the company said.
"For the past 41 years of my career at BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life," he said.
Details of Browne’s four-year relationship with Canadian Jeff Chevalier were published today in court documents after Britain’s highest court refused to hear Browne’s appeal for a publication ban. The High Court and the Court of Appeal had already rejected his attempt to block the story.
Browne’s decision follows a ruling by the High Court in London, released today, that he lied in his bid to block publication by the Mail on Sunday of the boyfriend’s account of their four-year relationship. Browne, 59, built BP into what was once Europe’s biggest company through more than $100 billion of acquisitions. In the past two years, he faced shareholder wrath over a deadly Texas refinery blast and oil leaks in Alaska.
Chevalier claims Browne supported him with BP ``resources and manpower,’’ and that Browne paid him a ``large sum of money’’ over their relationship, those documents say.
Browne admitted that he had lied to the court about how he first met Chevalier and that he later retracted and apologized for the untruthful account. He said in the statement that the decision to bring forward his retirement ``is a voluntary step which I am making to avoid unnecessary embarrassment and distraction to the company at this important time.’’
Browne, one of Britain’s most colorful and respected industrial leaders, had already announced that he would take early retirement in July.
Browne joined the company in 1966 as an apprentice and worked his way up to the top job in 1995. He oversaw BP’s expansion into the United States, including the 1998 merger with Amoco and the subsequent acquisitions of Arco and Castrol. /APA-Economics/