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Ohio pension funds join New York in BP lawsuit

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Four Ohio pension funds have joined the New York state retirement fund in filing a class-action suit against BP for allowing its stock to plunge in value, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Wednesday.

The four Ohio funds -- the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement system of Ohio, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund -- have a combined value of $150 billion.

These funds joined the New York State Common Retirement Fund, worth $132 billion, in filing suit against BP (BP), which has lost about 45% of its market value since the company's oil well blew up an offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April, killing 11 workers and unleashing a massive spill.

"BP misled investors with false and misleading statements about the safety of its drilling operations and its ability to fix events like the oil spill," DiNapoli said in an announcement that he released with Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, who represents the legal interests of the Ohio funds.

"By forming a partnership between New York and Ohio, we aim to compensate investors for what we believe was securities fraud and effect real change in the way BP and other companies do business," DiNapoli added.

BP did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

The New York fund, the country's third-largest, originally filed suit against BP in June. The fund held 19 million BP shares at the time of the explosion.

Robert Whalen, spokesman for the New York comptrollers, said the New York fund is filing as a co-lead plaintiff with the Ohio funds. He said there are also four pending actions filed through U.S. district courts in Louisiana and California, but they will eventually be consolidated into one.

BP has agreed to set aside $20 billion in an escrow account for spill-related costs. The company also decided to suspend its dividend for the rest of the year.

On Wednesday, the Times of London reported that Tony Hayward is getting ready to step down from his job as chief executive officer, but BP denied the report.  To top of page

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