On the money with Gavin Hinks

Gavin Hinks, editor of AccountancyAge

But even accountants sometimes find themselves in less than secure

Speculation over the past few weeks would suggest that James Owen, FD of BP’s
Russian joint oil venture TNK-BP, could be feeling less than relaxed as the heat
seems to mount around the business.

Last week it emerged Owen’s chief executive Robert Dudley had felt threatened
enough to leave the country for an undisclosed location to attempt to run the
business remotely.

Oil industry FDs tell me that Owen could well be feeling ‘very exposed’ at
the moment, but that it would all depend on how involved he was in the decisions
that BP’s Russian partners object to so much.

The trouble stems from a dispute with the Russian share holders in the joint
venture and BP has taken the line that it will not be intimidated. That places
Owen on the front line while he’s still in Moscow.

Other FDs tell me that while working abroad, harassment can take the form of
monitoring emails, telephone calls or even overtly following someone around.
Nothing physical, but just enough to make you feel your well-being is not so

There’s nothing in the ACA curriculum to prepare you for that sort of thing.
It’s a moment when an accountant simply calls on personal reserves. I can’t
imagine that it wouldn’t cross his mind that there must be less unnerving ways
to make a living as an accountant.

But the oil business is a strangely compelling business to be in. Those who
work in oil develop a passion for it in a way that perhaps doesn’t happen in
other industries and part of that derives from the inherent risks that are
involved. You’d be taking a risk to suggest Owen would give it all up.

Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age

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