Former BP CEO Bernard Looney Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP
Former BP boss Bernard Looney faces new charges after oil 60,000 pensioners the companies accused him of cutting their pension savings.
BP Pensioner Group has contacted the company's legal counsel to raise concerns about Mr. Looney's management of the pension fund and is now preparing a possible lawsuit against the firm.
Mr Looney and his former management team face allegations that they underfunded BP's pension scheme, causing members' income to fall by 17%.
This comes just weeks after the BP resigned after failing to fully disclose previous relationships with colleagues to the board.
Later, allegations also surfaced that he promoted women with whom he had romantic relationships.
Scrutiny of BP intensified late last week when David Lawler stepped down as chairman and president of BP America “to pursue new career opportunities.”
The BP Pensioner Group is pursuing Mr Looney after his shock resignation last month as they claim the former chief executive reneged on the company's promise to top up their pension fund in line with inflation.
< p>The BP Pensioner Group is pursuing Looney after his shock resignation last month as they claim the former CEO reneged on the company's promise to top up their pension fund in line with inflation.
In the letter, addressed to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the lawyers tasked with investigating Mr Looney's conduct, the pensioners' group argues: “We find that the individual and collective actions of the former BP chief executive in relation to his decision to reject the pension increases in 2023 recommended by the trustees of the BP pension fund represent constitutes a serious breach of the BP Code of Conduct.”
Mike Slingsby, the group's leader, who has worked at BP for 35 years, said: “BP's profits have recently risen to $1 billion a month, but the real pensions of its former workers are falling sharply. Mr. Looney and his colleagues treated them with contempt.”
A senior city lawyer was retained by a group of retirees to consider a lawsuit against BP over Mr. Looney's actions.
< p>During the former BP boss's tenure, one of his roles was to oversee the company's final pension scheme, which closed to new members in 2010.
It still has 60,000 members, of which 16,000 are in they are 80 and 90 years old.
Under the rules of the scheme, BP must top up the fund in line with inflation.
The company says it is only required to match inflation up to 5%, but in the past it has always made additional contributions when inflation exceeded this threshold.
BP is said to have abandoned its policy to top up the bank as inflation soared to a 41-year high of 11.1% in October 2022 before falling to 6.7% in August 2023.
The pensioners claim Looney and his team told the group they were capping the increase at 5% and rejecting trustees' requests for more money.
They claim this led to former BP staff's earnings falling in real terms by 17%.
Before Looney's departure, the annual salary was £1.3 million, although after benefits and allowances it rose to around £10 million.
By contrast, BP pensioners receive an average of £18,000 a year.
The group of BP pensioners includes Pat Cassidy, 62, who worked for BP as a chemical engineer for 17 years . He retired to Scotland in 2022: “I paid pension amounts based on BP's policy of increasing its pension fund in line with inflation.”
“It is the failure of promises and the hypocrisy of what was once a principled company that this is so unacceptable.”
When asked whether the company would investigate the pensioners' allegations as part of its investigation, Freshfields declined to comment. Representatives for Looney did not respond to requests for comment.
A BP spokesman confirmed that the decision to limit the pension fund was made by the company's management team, led by Looney.
In a statement, the company said: “ BP recognizes the difficulties that the cost of living has created for many, including our current and former employees. BP's decision not to agree to the trustees' request for an additional 4% was difficult.
“This decision was based on BP's need to balance the interests of our many stakeholders, including customers, employees and retirees. and shareholders around the world. It is important to note that many of BP's pensioners are based outside the UK and most are not part of pension schemes with inflation-linked final salaries.”