• Texas law firm target of BP lawsuit

    GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Two Texas attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three Mississippi businessmen who argue they are owed $7.9 million for steering to the lawyers thousands of people seeking to resolve claims against BP from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

    Gulf Coast businessmen Scott Walker, Kirk Ladner and Steve Seymour, who is also a Hancock County supervisor, filed the lawsuit in October in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Mississippi.

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  • A frightening tool to fight oil spills?

    A rash of recent oil spills around the globe -- Bangladesh, Israel, Peru and New Zealand -- serve as reminders of the damage such spills can cause and of the important role responders can play in limiting such damage.

    Spill responders have several tools at their disposal, including chemical dispersants. However, the legacy of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico includes a public backlash against dispersants that stands to exacerbate environmental damage from future spills.

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  • Special Master Seeks Return of Additional BP Claims Money

    A special master responsible for identifying fraudulent claims against BP PLC’s $9.2 billion settlement over its 2010 oil spill is asking for the return of $580,000 paid to three commercial fishermen who submitted allegedly false tax returns.

    Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who already has asked for more than $1 million from four claimants, filed motions this month against three more. The U.S. Supreme Court declined this month to take up BP’s appeal challenging its own settlement, which resolves claims for economic damages by individuals and businesses. BP has maintained that the way in which the 2012 settlement has been interpreted has led to fraud.

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  • Special Investigator Identities Yet Another Deepwater Horizon Seafood Fund Claim Based on False Tax Documents

    NEW ORLEANS – An investigator probing fraud in the multi-billion dollar Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement has filed a clawback request against yet another Gulf Coast fisherman, saying he filed fake paperwork to justify a $168,000 claim payment.

    Jimmy Shoemaker Jr. of Pass Christian, Miss. is the latest fisherman to come under investigation by Louis Freeh, the former FBI director hired 18 months ago to root out fraud in the massive oil spill settlement case. In court papers filed late Wednesday, Freeh asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to demand the return of $168,692 paid to Shoemaker, saying the fisherman falsified IRS forms specifically designed to defraud the settlement trust fund.

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  • Auditor: Deepwater Horizon Claims Chief Spent $471 Million on Administration in 2013

    NEW ORLEANS – The administrator of the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement spent $471 million to disburse about $2.8 billion in claims in 2013, according to a recent audit.

    Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau was paid $3.5 million annually to oversee the claims office, while four accounting firms under his control split $410 million in fees, according to a 2013 audit conducted by CliftonLarsonAllen of Indiana, an accounting firm hired by the court to audit the oil spill settlement operation. All told, nearly $1 out of every $6 paid in claims went toward administrative overhead, the audit said.

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  • BP Oil Spill Claims Adjuster Pleads Guilty to $257,400 Wire Fraud

    A former BP oil spill claims adjuster pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing false claims for people who were not affected by the 2010 disaster. Charlie English III, 33, of LaPlace, admitted filing six bogus claims totalling $257,400, in exchange for keeping $30,000.

    An adjuster for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, English admitted to wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who scheduled sentencing March 11. English faces as long as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, although maximum penalties in federal court are rare for first offenders.

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  • Deepwater Horizon audit finds one in five business, seafood claims lack proper documentation

    NEW ORLEANS – An audit of the Deepwater Horizon settlement facility shows that nearly one in five claims in certain fraud-prone categories were paid without proper documentation.

    The $14 million independent audit, paid for by oil giant BP PLC, shows that 20.6 percent of business loss claims attributed to the 2010 oil spill lacked documentary proof. Similarly, fishermen claims for losses lacked proper documentation 18.4 percent of the time. These two loss categories have been cited by BP and federal investigators as magnets for fraud and both programs have been a focus in recent months for scores of clawback requests and criminal indictments.

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  • BP, Audit Spell Out Documentation Issues at Spill Claims Office

    HOUSTON – BP is leveling new criticisms at the office that runs its multibillion-dollar oil spill settlement program, pointing to some claimants’ missing or deficient documentation outlined in an audit released last week.

    An independent accounting firm found 8.2 percent of the damage claims stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were missing required documents or didn’t meet documentation standards set out in the settlement, which BP reached with thousands of Gulf residents and businesses in 2012.

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  • U.S. Secret Service Makes Multiple Arrests In Scheme To Defraud The BP Oil Spill Compensation Fund

    Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of indictments charging 27 individuals with participating in a scheme to defraud the compensation fund established as a result of the BP oil spill in 2010. Twenty-six indictments charge a single count of mail fraud, while one indictment charges Justin Kelly (33, Jacksonville) with five counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

    If convicted of mail fraud, each individual faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. In the case of Justin Kelly, he faces an additional mandatory two-year term of imprisonment, which must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed for mail fraud. The indictments also notify the defendants that the United States will be seeking forfeiture money judgments for sums representing the amount of proceeds fraudulently received as a result of the charged criminal conduct.

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  • Fraudster Loses Bid to Cut Prison Time in BP Case

    A former mayoral and congressional candidate in Detroit who was convicted of filing five fraudulent claims tied to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has lost his bid to reduce his prison sentence of 15 years.

    Duane Montgomery filed claims for more than $2.5 million in property damage and lost profits he allegedly incurred when tar balls destroyed the engine of his “pollution monitoring” boat following the 2010 spill. He claimed that he was left adrift in the Gulf of Mexico after his engine failed.

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