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Chevron Files Ethics Complaint Against N.Y. Controller Over Lago Agro Case
New York Law Journal
Chevron Corp. has filed an ethics complaint charging that New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli wrongly accepted campaign funds from plaintiffs' lawyers who obtained a $19 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant in Ecuador.
Leaving no stone unturned as it continues its worldwide campaign to defeat what it says is an unjust environmental award procured by fraud, Chevron has accused DiNapoli of accepting some $60,000 in contributions and claim he was given other political benefits by the plaintiffs' bar while at the same time overseeing the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which owns more than $800 million in Chevron common stock.
"In sum, DiNapoli and his office have aided a fraud apparently in return for money," according to the complaint in Chevron v. DiNapoli, delivered last Tuesday to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics by David Grandeau of David Grandeau and Associates in Niskayuna, N.Y.
Grandeau, the former director of the now-defunct State Lobbying Commission, was hired by Chevron to investigate DiNapoli.
DiNapoli issued a statement saying the allegations were without merit.
"This is a baseless attempt by big oil to intimidate me and it won't work," he said.
The complaint alleges that, beginning in 2003, lawyers and consultants led by New York attorney Steven Donziger, who represents plaintiffs in the suit against Chevron, "have orchestrated a scheme to extort a multibillion payoff from Chevron in connection with fraudulent litigation against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador."
As part of Donziger's campaign to get public figures to pressure Chevron on behalf of his clients, the complaint states, Donziger and his allies enlisted DiNapoli through campaign contributions and have since "received the unwavering support of DiNapoli and his office."
"DiNapoli has made numerous public statements denouncing Chevron, and has opened the doors of his office to the perpetrators of the Lago Agrio fraud," the complaint states.
The complaint cites several sections of New York Public Officers Law, including §74(2), which bars officials from having "any interest, financial or otherwise…which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of [their] duties in the public interest."