Details are slowly emerging from the after-party at last month's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where executives of Exxon, BP of Britain and Total of France signed a raft of new oil exploration deals with Russian oil companies.
The party, according to one unnamed source who was present, was filled with good-natured joking and bawdy humor.
David Campbell, BP's Russia chief and a British citizen, when asked after signing a $300 million "preliminary agreement" with Mr. Igor Sechin CEO of Rosneft and reportedly "The Soviet Union's point man for weapons smuggling to much of Latin America and the Middle East" in the 1980's, if he had any qualms about signing said, "Goodness no. I just lay back, closed my eyes and thought of England."
Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson, who was not present but checked in via Skype, got a huge laugh when Vladimir Putin asked him if the new exploration deal signed by Exxon-Mobil's exploration chief, Neil W. Duffin would harm his personal relationship with President Barack Obama. Tillerson, according to those present, did a decent Michael Corleone impression and said, "It's not personal, it's business."
Sources also said that Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive, Ben van Beurden, also got a round of applause when, after kneeling patiently in a corner for an hour, flipped a caviar laden blini up off his nose and caught it with his mouth when Putin said, "OK, now."
But reportedly the biggest laugh went to French oil company Total's chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, who stood up, opened his trench coat to reveal him wearing a garter belt, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels and said, "My message to Russia is simple -- it is business as usual." Witnesses said that Vladimir Putin laughed so hard, vodka came out of his nose.
In the meantime, Sergei Magnitsky, is still dead.