The widow of a chief engineer who was mysteriously lost at sea a year ago is accusing oil major BP of attempting to get out of paying death benefits by claiming her husband committed suicide.

If Renford Agnello Eustace Braganza took his own life, it means that under his employment contract the company does not need to pay a death benefit. But BP is not even letting the widow see a copy of the contract, say her lawyers.

Braganza was reported missing from the 46,800-dwt British Unity (built 2004) on 11 May 2009 after he failed to report for duty that morning.