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PORTLAND, Ore. -- The state of Oregon has filed a lawsuit against BP to recover approximately $19 million in retirement funds that State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Attorney General John Kroger say were lost following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Portland Tribune.
The lawsuit, which was filed on April 19 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, claims that BP made false or misleading statements to investors about safety procedures and practices related to its deepwater drilling operations. On April 20, 2010, 11 people were killed when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, causing a massive oil spill.
Oregon state officials say that the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund lost millions due to BP's misleading statements and the Gulf disaster, which resulted in a nearly 50-percent drop in stock for the company. The Oregon State Treasury and Oregon Investment Council had purchased shares in BP and its subsidiaries as part of the diversified and global investment portfolio for retirement fund and other state trust funds.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund and other trust funds, and concerns shares of BP ordinary stock purchased on the London Stock Exchange from May 2007 to May 2010, reported the Tribune. BP PLC, BP America Inc. and BP Exploration and Production Inc. are the defendants.
"The BP disaster ravaged the environment and it also damaged Oregonians who were led to believe the company was prepared for the worst-case scenario," said Wheeler, a member of the Oregon Investment Council. "Companies that engage in high-risk activities have an obligation to shareholders and to the public to have appropriate risk-mitigation plans in place, and then to follow them."
"BP needs to be held accountable, not only for the environmental damage it caused but also for misleading investors that it had adequate safety procedures in place, when such procedures were not fully implemented in the Gulf of Mexico or applicable to the Deepwater Horizon," added Mary Williams, deputy attorney general.
BP officials have not issued a comment about the lawsuit.