BP boss Bernard Looney has quit with immediate effect in a shock to the City after admitting he was not “fully transparent” in his disclosures about past relationships with colleagues.
The Irishman, 53, took the role as chief executive of the oil giant in February 2020, pledging the company would become carbon neutral by the middle of the century.
He has now stepped down, and BP’s chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss will take over the role on an interim basis.
The company has strong values and the board expects everyone at the company to behave in accordance with those values.
In a BP statement issued at 7:40 pm on Tuesday, the oil supermajor said it had investigated his past relationships with colleagues, initially finding no breach of its code of conduct, but further claims emerged, which prompted Looney to admit he had not been fully transparent with the board.
“In May 2022, the board received and reviewed allegations, with the support of external legal counsel, relating to Mr Looney’s conduct in respect of personal relationships with company colleagues,” BP said. “The information came from an anonymous source.
“During that review, Mr Looney disclosed a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO. No breach of the company’s code of conduct was found.
“However, the board sought and was given assurances by Mr Looney regarding disclosure of past personal relationships, as well as his future behaviour.
“Further allegations of a similar nature were received recently, and the company immediately began investigating with the support of external legal counsel. That process is ongoing.
“Mr Looney has today informed the company that he now accepts that he was not fully transparent in his previous disclosures. He did not provide details of all relationships and accepts he was obligated to make more complete disclosure.
“The company has strong values and the board expects everyone at the company to behave in accordance with those values. All leaders in particular are expected to act as role models and to exercise good judgement in a way that earns the trust of others.
According to BP’s annual report, Looney was paid £10 million including bonuses last year, making him the fourth-highest-paid CEO on the FTSE 100. He was eligbile to make up to a maximum of £15.9 million this year, depending on perofrance-related bonuses.
BP said no decisions had yet been made on whether he would receive a payoff, or whether any of the money he had already earned could be clawed back.
As CFO, Auchincloss made £5.3 million last year.