NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of BP (BP) are down 1.51% to $40.56 after the state of California joined a whistle-blower lawsuit over claims that the oil and gas company overcharged the state by as much as $300 million for natural gas over almost a decade, lawyers for the plaintiff said in a case unsealed in San Francisco state court, Bloomberg reports.
The state and two of its university systems are pursuing the case along with a whistle-blower, former BP employee Christopher Schroen, according to a copy of the complaint forwarded by his attorneys, according to Bloomberg.
BP sold about $1.5 billion to $2 billion worth of natural gas to the programs from about 2004 to 2012, when Schroen was fired, according to the suit. The overcharges during that period were at least $150 million to $300 million, plaintiffs alleged.
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The lawsuit under California's False Claims Act seeks tripled damages, Bloomberg added.
Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates BP PLC as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate BP PLC (BP) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed--some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins."