Judge Denies BP’s Bid to Halt Gulf Oil Spill Payments Pending Investigation

By | August 28, 2013

BP Plc lost a renewed bid to suspend payments from the court-supervised program administering its settlement of claims tied to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

An investigation of alleged wrongdoing at the Mobile, Alabama, claims assistance center didn’t find “any credible evidence of fraud,” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans said today.

He also rejected BP’s allegations that its ability to appeal payments was tainted because, the company said, “at least two appeal panelists had apparent conflicts of interest.” The issue earlier was brought to Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan, who investigated and is handling the matter, Barbier said.

“None of the claims represented by the firms of two of the panelists have been approved, paid or appealed,” Barbier said today, referring to law firms. The “alleged conflicts” are not “a basis upon which to suspend the entire claims payment program,” he said.

Barbier last month rejected the company’s request to stop the payments while Louis Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, probes allegations of misconduct in the claims program. BP renewed the request Aug. 5.

Scott Dean, London-based BP’s spokesman, and Nick Gagliano, a spokesman for claims administrator Patrick Juneau, didn’t immediately reply to telephone and e-mail requests for comment on the ruling.

The case is In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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