Watching the World: Spies, taxes, and business

In the old days, when Her Majesty’s Treasury was being drained dry, the British government dispatched James Bond to sort out the problem. These days, that task falls to other stalwarts, armed with little more than patience and politesse.Last week, BP PLC Chief Executive John Browne was the man for the job as he winged it to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin-latterly of the KGB-to discuss the general business environment in Russia these days.“Taxing” is probably the word that best describes that environment, as Browne well knows, since Russian authorities have recently demanded back tax on BP’s 50-50 joint venture with local oil producer TNK...

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