Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) has filed a complaint with the state of New York seeking an investigation into the actions of the state’s comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, and other members of his staff related to violations of the state’s Public Officers Law. Chevron is fighting an $18.2 billion judgment related to environmental damage in Ecuador by Texaco between 1964 and 1992.
In early October the U.S. Supreme Court denied Chevron’s appeal of a Second District Court ruling upholding the judgment.
In its press release announcing the filing, Chevron said:
Under New York Public Officers Law, public officials are prohibited from having any interest, financial or otherwise, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his [sic] duties in the public interest. Evidence shows that Comptroller DiNapoli used his office to support the Ecuadorian plaintiffs lawyers scheme to pressure Chevron into settling the lawsuit in exchange for benefits received from the plaintiffs representatives.
The plaintiffs supporters, amongst other things, have made direct financial contributions to DiNapolis campaign in excess of $60,000 and have given him other political benefits. In an apparent quid pro quo exchange, DiNapoli has given his unwavering support and used his public office to take actions on behalf of the plaintiffs, such as sponsoring shareholder resolutions and making public statements against Chevron that were explicitly intended to pressure the company to settle the fraudulent lawsuit.
That seems a bit thin, but with $18.2 billion at stake Chevron has to grasp at every straw it sees.
Shares of Chevron are down about 1% today at $103.36 in a 52-week range of $92.29 to $118.53.