AP Photo: Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
By Jessica Bakeman, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Chevron Corporation filed a complaint Tuesday with the state ethics board claiming that state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli committed ethical and legal breaches regarding a case the company was litigating in Ecuador.
The complaint, filed with state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, asks for an investigation of DiNapoli as well as current and past members of his staff for multiple violations of the New York Public Officers Law.
Chevron's complaint relates to ongoing litigation in Ecuador and claims that DiNapoli, who oversees the state Common Retirement Fund, which owns more than $800 million of Chevron stock, breached his ethical and fiduciary duties.
Under the state's 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 duties in the public interest." In the complaint, Chevron alleges that 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 DiNapoli's campaign in excess of $60,000 and have given him other political benefits, according to the complaint.
"The Comptroller's continued advocacy has come despite repeated findings by U.S. federal courts that the Ecuador litigation is tainted by fraud," said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel, in a statement. "Mr. DiNapoli's actions serve only his political patrons, not the citizens of the State of New York or the beneficiaries of the Common Retirement Fund. This type of quid pro quo behavior is an apparent breach of ethical and legal responsibilities that warrants investigation."
DiNapoli of Ethical, Legal Breaches