A SCANA Corp. investor is suing the company’s top officers and its board of directors, alleging they enriched themselves while breaching their fiduciary duties to shareholders of the energy company.
The complaint is the latest piece of litigation to surface following the failed expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.
SCANA, which owned 55 percent of the project, abandoned the deal in late July after it and partner Santee Cooper had invested about $9 billion in two unfinished reactors.
John Crangle, a government watchdog in Columbia, filed the complaint in Richland County on behalf of himself and other shareholders on Tuesday.
Crangle said he's owned SCANA stock for more than 40 years. He is seeking the return of bonus money and unspecified damages from top executives, including CEO Kevin Marsh, and the board of directors.
The lawsuit showed that the top five SCANA executives took home more than $24 million in bonuses between since 2007, when a state law was passed that enabled the company to finance the expansion.
"As a direct and proximate result of their misdeeds, the market value for the company's shares and goodwill has suffered dramatically, and SCANA is now poised for far greater financial harm resulting from its abandonment of the V.C. Summer ... project, after imprudently spending billions of dollars," according to the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Crangle also cited the recently released audit known as the Bechtel Report, saying it "found there was a total lack of accountability imposed" by SCANA officials on Westinghouse Electric Co. and other contractors at the Fairfield County work site.
"This lack of accountability resulted in billions of dollars in cost over-runs, significant scheduling delays, and ultimately a waste of $9 billion," they wrote.
A spokesman said SCANA generally does not comment "publicly on details pertaining to pending or ongoing litigation." The Cayce-based company has said repeatedly that scuttling the V.C Summer expansion was the most prudent course of action for its finances and its investors.
Shares of SCANA skidded more than 7.8 percent Wednesday, a day after state police said they were looking into "potential criminality" stemming from the V.C. Summer deal.
The slide also followed a petition from the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff seeking to block SCANA from charging customers for the unfinished project.
The agency's request came hours after S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson questioned the constitutionality of a 2007 state law that allowed the utility to raise rates and collect money during the construction phase rather than after the reactors were finished.
SCANA said it "intends to vigorously contest" the petition.
The state Public Service Commission has scheduled a special meeting for 1 p.m. Thursday in Columbia to review the Office of Regulatory Staff's filing.