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DiNapoli wants lead status in BP lawsuit

Thomas DiNapoli

Thomas DiNapoli

ALBANY — New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has moved to become the lead plaintiff in a class-action federal suit by investors against BP over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

As trustee of the state’s $133 billion public employee pension fund, DiNapoli claims the British oil giant misled investors about the safety of its operations.

Robert Whalen, a DiNapoli spokesman, says four pending suits will likely be consolidated, and the fund has experience in similar suits, including a recent settlement with Countrywide Financial.

On Wednesday Whalen said the fund had about 19 million BP shares at the time of the spill. The company has lost about half its value since then and its stock trades near 14-year lows in the U.S.

BP suspended dividends this year, but says it’s committed to delivering long-term value to shareholders.