BP has announced that it will withhold payment of £1.5 million due to former chief executive Lord Browne until an investor lawsuit being heard in Alaska is heard.
The payment was set to be made as a one-off gift to say thank you for his service to the company and equates to one year's salary. A similar payment to refining head John Manzoni of £500,000 due when he steps down next month, has also been suspended.
The company claims that it has "voluntarily" frozen the payments with the consent of both men.
Prominent US class-action lawyer William Lerach is leading a suit bought forward by the company's investors - on the grounds that the company's value has been hit by a string of disasters. These include a fatal explosion in Texas and the shutdown of an oilfield in North America after leaks were discovered.
The investors are seeking damages from 39 current and former BP executives - and were initially worried that Browne and Manzoni's departures would exonerate them from any action.
"We are maintaining the financial status quo until we reach the end of the case," Mary Blasy, a lawyer acting for the investors, commented.
"With both men leaving the company, we were afraid we would end up with them being released from any liability. Now that won't happen."
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