The Big Australian BHP is facing a proposed class action by Australia's leading class action law firm, with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers informing the Federal Court today it intends to represent shareholders that overpaid millions for inflated BHP shares.
The claim against one of the largest listed companies on the Australian Stock Exchange relates to the devastating Fundão Dam collapse on 5 November 2015 in Brazil, which released a mudflow that killed 19 people and caused catastrophic damage to downstream communities and the environment.
It is anticipated the Maurice Blackburn action will attract significant support from institutional and retail investors, with litigation funding rates of 10-15 per cent on offer.
The class action is expected to allege BHP failed to comply with its continuous disclosure obligations by failing to adequately inform the market of the risks and consequences of failure of the dam, which had been beset with problems for years, and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
Following the dam collapse, BHP's share price plunged about 20 per cent between 6 November 2015 and 30 November 2015.
Brooke Dellavedova, Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn and one of the country's most experienced class action lawyers, says investors should have been told of the risks, as they were clearly material.
"We have good reason to believe the company should have informed the market of serious problems at the dam as early as August 2014 – but the company chose to stay silent," Ms Dellavedova said.
"For more than a year investors were kept in the dark, overpaying for their shares and suffering massive losses once the dam actually collapsed.
"Big companies withholding information is exactly what these Corporation Act laws seek to prevent, to ensure the market has the information required to ensure fair and efficient allocation of investors' capital, and that investors have remedies when that's not adhered to."
Maurice Blackburn is the only Australian firm to have resolved shareholder class action cases for over $100 million, which we have done seven times now.
BHP shareholders that purchased fully paid ordinary shares in the period between 27 August 2014 and 9 November 2015 (inclusive), registration is now open online at https://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/current-class-actions/bhp-class-action/ or by calling 1800931970.