Bowleven sacks chief executive for misconduct

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The Independent Online

The board of Bowleven, the London-listed oil and gas exploration company, shocked investors with the news it had sacked its chief executive Philip Rhind for gross misconduct, dismissing him from his post with immediate effect and without a pay-off.

In a short statement to the Stock Exchange yesterday morning, the group said only that Mr Rhind's dismissal had received the unanimous backing of the board after an internal investigation into "various allegations concerning his conduct in office".

An injunction obtained by the company prevented Mr Rhind or his colleagues from revealing any details of the scandal yesterday. But the company's executive chairman Terry Heneaghan insisted the incident did not concern the financial situation of the company. "It's not a story of financial irregularities, it's just a straightforward dismissal," he said. "The finances of the company will not be affected."

Mr Rhind, who is based in South Africa, is believed to be planning to launch a legal challenge against his dismissal, and is reputed to refute all allegations against him.

However, Tim Heeley, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said he believed the company's integrity had been "irreparably damaged" by yesterday's news.

Bowleven said John Morrow, the company's technical director, would assume the role of chief operating officer with responsibility for all operational aspects of the company until a full management review had been completed.

Shares in the company fell 4 per cent yesterday before recovering to close up slightly at 167p. But the stock has fallen more than 75 per cent since last summer.