The five New York City pension plans have sued BP PLC trying to recover investment losses for what they allege were “misleading statements” by the oil company before and after the explosion and oil leak at a BP offshore oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's platform, Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers.
“BP failed to disclose to shareowners the serious risks involved in its offshore drilling operation,” New York City Comptroller John Liu said in a news release Friday. “After the spill began, it misleadingly attempted to minimize the extent of the damage and the cost to shareowners.”
Mr. Liu is investment adviser to, and custodian and trustee of, the five city pension funds with aggregate assets of $127.5 billion. Matthew Sweeney, a spokesman for Mr. Liu, said in an e-mail that the pension plans owned 2.82 million shares of BP stock worth $19.3 million as of April 15 this year.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in New York on April 17 under seal. It was unsealed on Friday. The pension funds say they collectively lost “tens of millions of dollars as a result of BP misleading statements,” the complaint said.
“Defendants minimized the magnitude of the oil spill, overstated BP's ability to control it, and understated the amount of money BP would have to pay to clean it up,” the complaint said. “As defendants knew, but concealed, containing the spill was like trying to toss a hat on a fire hose.”
BP spokesman Scott Dean declined to comment.