Attorneys representing BP investors have accused the British oil company of lying about its commitment to safety and inflating company shares for three years before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon set off the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The BP investors lawsuit names as defendants the company and current and former executives including CEO Robert W. Dudley, seen here, and former CEO Anthony B. Hayward.
BP management claimed the company had learned its lesson after an accident at a refinery in Texas in 2005 had killed 15 workers and injured hundreds of people, the lawyers said yesterday in a lawsuit brought by institutional investors, including Ohio’s pension plan.
Investors discovered after the rig explosion that the company didn’t live up to promises in 2007 to increase its focus on safety and maintenance, the lawyers said in an amended complaint filed yesterday.
According to Bloomberg:
“The truth about BP and its lack of commitment to and implementation of safety processes to avoid preventable incidents began to emerge,” said attorneys for the Ohio and New York state pension funds. “Investors were deceived as to BP’s true risk profile in deep sea drilling.”
The investor securities-fraud lawsuit is among hundreds of claims filed in U.S. courts after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig last April. Injury, economic loss and environmental suits are combined before a federal judge in New Orleans. The investor suit, which seeks unspecified billions of dollars in lost share value, is combined with other shareholder actions in federal court in Houston.
Investors claim BP violated U.S. securities laws by misleading investors before and after the spill. London-based BP fell about 40 percent in the weeks after the explosion, investors said in yesterday’s filing. The drop eliminated billions of dollars in the company’s total market capitalization, shareholders’ lawyers said.
The Ohio and New York pension plans are seeking class- action, or group, status for the suit, covering investors in American depositary receipts from Jan. 16, 2007, to May 28, 2010. The suit also seeks recovery of losses over that period for U.S. investors who bought stock in markets outside the U.S.