New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, will continue its effort to sue BP despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has created a jurisdictional hurdle, confirmed Robert Whalen, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the $132.6 billion fund.
“Last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court requires additional evaluation, but we are going forward,” Mr. Whalen said in an interview Thursday. “If necessary, we’ll seek a remedy through another venue.”
The Supreme Court on June 24, in a ruling on Morrison vs. National Australia Bank, voted 8-0 that SEC fraud provisions don’t apply to securities that are traded outside the U.S.
Although Mr. Whalen wouldn’t discuss legal strategy, the other venues could be state court or a court in the United Kingdom because BP shares are traded primarily on the London Stock Exchange.
Mr. Whalen said the fund now holds 14.1 million shares, and all but 200,000 shares were purchased on the London Stock Exchange. The rest were purchased as American depositary receipts on the New York Stock Exchange.
The fund on June 23 hired the law firm of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, to represent it in a potential a class-action suit against BP, alleging the company misled investors and misrepresented its ability to handle a major oil spill, which led to a decline in the company’s stock. The fund is seeking to become the lead plaintiff.
On April 20, a company oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a still-steady flow of oil into the water. The fund held 19 million shares when the well exploded and now holds about 14.5 million shares.