NEW YORK (Reuters) - PetroChina Co on Monday won the dismissal of a U.S. class-action lawsuit arising from an alleged bribery scheme at China’s state-run oil company.
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan dismissed claims by PetroChina investors who accused the company and various officials, including former Chairman Jiang Jiemin, of deceiving them about its internal controls and governance.
An anti-graft campaign championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping has ensnared many officials at PetroChina and its parent China National Petroleum Corp, since the middle of 2013.
PetroChina’s market value was roughly US$296 billion as of Monday, Reuters data show.
In the U.S. lawsuit, investors led by Jeffrey Klein and Samuel Ayoub accused PetroChina and individual defendants of violating U.S. securities laws by concealing “bribery, political corruption, and undisclosed related party transactions.”
The lawsuit sought to recoup losses suffered by purchasers of PetroChina securities from April 26, 2012, to Dec. 17, 2013, attributable to declines in the company’s share price, as news about alleged wrongdoing started to become public.
Ramos, however, said the plaintiffs failed to show that PetroChina made false statements about its corporate governance practices or its internal controls over financial reporting.
He also said there was no showing that the individual defendants knew of or recklessly disregarded alleged corruption at PetroChina at the time.
While the complaint “certainly suggests” that the Chinese government suspected wrongdoing by PetroChina officials, “plaintiffs never specify when that conduct occurred or how it rendered PetroChina’s public statements false,” Ramos wrote.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for PetroChina did not immediately respond to a similar request.
The case is In re PetroChina Co Ltd Securities Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-06180.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Ken Wills