BP settles lawsuit with staff who departed for Brightoil

SINGAPORE Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:43am BST

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - BP Singapore, a unit of BP Plc, has reached a settlement with six former staff who left to start a trading unit for Chinese oil firm Brightoil Petroleum over a lawsuit filed by the oil major accusing the group of breach of contract, court documents showed on Friday.

The settlement was reached on October 13, days before a pre-trial conference set for October 18, according to the documents. No details of the settlement were given.

"BP and the ex-employees have now settled the litigation action. We have no further comment to make," a BP spokesperson said in reply to queries from Reuters.

The group of former employees, who were senior staff at BP's global fuel oil and Asia bunker teams, either declined to comment or were not available to do so.

BP filed the lawsuit at the Singapore High Court on July 5 last year, alleging that the six had breached their fiduciary duties to the company, breached their employment contracts, including their fidelity duties, as well misusing confidential information, court documents showed.

The defendants to the suit include BP's former head of global fuel oil trading, Quek Chin Thean, the Asia head of its marine fuels business, Clarence Chang, trading manager John Foo, head of operations for all oil products in Asia, Paul John Bradshaw, legal manager Simon Cheong and administrative executive Laura Kuan.

In the suit, BP said Quek and Cheong engineered the mass departures of the 20 staff and conducted negotiations with Hong Kong-listed Brightoil, which it described as a direct competitor, about moving over and setting up a competing business, while still employed by the oil major.

In August last year, three of the six former BP staff later counter claimed for wrongful dismissal and one other filed a claim for money owed by the ex-employer, court documents had shown.

(Reporting by Francis Kan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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