Sens. Feinstein and Padilla help wildfire victims keep settlement payments

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will allow thousands of recent wildfire victims to keep payments from a settlement reached with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

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“This is excellent news for the 80,000 Californians who suffered from wildfires found to be caused by PG&E,” U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA), said. “Those who suffered from these wildfires deserve full compensation from the victims’ trust fund. This assistance is vital for tens of thousands of families, and we’re grateful the SEC worked with the victims trust to find a solution.”

PG&E was found responsible for three wildfires that occurred in 2015, 2017 and 2018. PG&E and the 80,000 people affected by those fires reached a settlement that created a trust fund that included cash and 477 million shares of PG&E stock. At the time, the settlement was valued at approximately $5.2 billion.

However, earlier this year, the possibility was raised that settlement stock payments may fall under a provision of law that governs insider trading, essentially meaning that any increased value of the stock shares would have to be returned to PG&E instead of going to the victims.

The senators consulted with the victims and PG&E this past May and then requested that the SEC grant an exemption to the law to ensure the full value of the shares went to the victims.