Tullow rejects corruption allegations

AGM hears company has “zero tolerance” approach to bribery

Tullow Oil has rejected as "totally unfounded" allegations of corruption in its Ugandan operations, insisting that it has a "zero tolerance policy" on the issue.

During its annual general meeting in London, company chairman Simon Thompson said “not a shred of evidence was ever presented, or indeed exists” to support charges made by Heritage Oil during a High Court battle in London. Judgment in the case is expected in July.

“I want to address this issue once again today and reassure you once again that the board adopts a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption,” shareholders were told by Mr Thompson, who sharply criticised some media reporting of the London case.

Facing questions from a number of shareholders, Mr Thompson said: “In those countries where Tullow has operated for a number of years, we actually do not get approached for bribes because it is well known within the community that we simply do not pay bribes.


“That has been the policy of this company since it was founded in 1986, an absolute zero tolerance approach to corruption,” he added. “Provided we stick very closely to that line, then we will not be confronted with that situation.”

Chief executive Aidan Heavey said Tullow took its corporate and social responsibilities "very seriously". "We will be in these communities and countries for a very long, long time, so it is important for us to build our relationships in these areas."

Mr Heavey added that transparency was “the best way” to avoid such allegations. “If you had total transparency you wouldn’t have half the issues. The best way to avoid these is to have total transparency.”

He said Tullow sought to employ local suppliers and “as many local staff as possible”.

Facing complaints about the share price, he said Tullow’s management had done a “great job” in meeting targets set for last year, but had suffered because markets became bearish towards exploration stocks.

Meanwhile, the Tullow chief executive said the company will seek partners to develop oil fields in Ghana, saying that it was “too much for any company, even a major company”, to do such work on its own.

*This article was edited on May 9th.

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy is Ireland and Britain Editor with The Irish Times