Lawyers for Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) have filed an ethics complaint against Thomas DiDiNapoli, the state comptroller for New York. The complaint filed with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) alleges that DiNapoli used his position to secure donations in connection with a major lawsuit. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) is requesting that DiNapoli and his current and former staff members be investigated for numerous New York Public Officers Law violations.
The complaint is in connection with a lawsuit filed against Chevron in Ecuador. The suit alleged that Texaco, which is now owned by Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), caused serious damage to the Amazon River environment. Chevron’s complaint claims that while overseeing DiNapoli the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which owns over $800 million in shares of Chevron, he breached his fiduciary and ethical duties.
The law states that public officials may not have any type of interest which conflicts with their ability to properly do their duties in the public interest. A statement from a Chevron spokesperson alleges that DiNapoli used his office as state comptroller to support the plaintiffs in the Ecuadorian lawsuit against Chevron, by pressuring the oil company to settle. Chevron claims that in exchange for pressuring it to settle the suit, lawyers tied to the plaintiffs in the suit paid DiNapoli more than $60,000 and gave him free trips to Ecuador and opportunities to meet Sting and other celebrities who supported the lawsuit.
A statement from Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)'s vice president and general counsel said DiNapoli continued to advocate for settlement, even though the U.S. federal courts have found repeatedly that fraud is involved in the lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador. He says the comptroller released statements and letters to shareholders that were critical of the oil company’s place in the lawsuit and requesting that the company settle.
DiNapoli released a press statement shortly after the complaint was filed, saying that the allegations were baseless. He denied traveling to Ecuador and meeting Sting. DiNapoli now has 15 days to officially respond to JCOPE regarding the complaint.