Patrick Juneau, the Deepwater Horizon Settlement Claims Administrator, responded to a motion filed by BP with the Eastern District of Louisiana claiming that the claims administration was subject to fraud, kickbacks and insufficient oversight. One employee in particular, referred to as “employee A” was aware of claims by family, and had checked on those claims, a violation of rules. New rules have been put in place to prevent this from happening again.
Juneau also pointed to the system of checks and reviews that each claim undergoes as evidence that the program is sufficiently supervised to avoid fraudulent claims. Data about each claim is reviewed automatically for unusual features, and suspicious claims are flagged for closer review. Employees are also periodically investigated for compliance and conflicts of interest.
Photo Credit: USFWS/Southeast
As for claims that the Mobile, Alabama office in particular was suffering fraud as a result of an unusually large number of subsistence payments, an investigation revealed that a claim preparation company was the result of many of those claims. Many claims involved fishing from a location that does not require a license, making claims easier to prove because a fishing license would normally be required for a subsistence claim. All claims from the suspected company have been suspended pending an investigation, and Juneau points out that this situation does not implicate any of his employees in a fraudulent scheme.
BP also claimed that three claim appeal panelists, attorneys appointed by the court, had conflicts of interest due to firms with close ties filing claims. One has resigned, another did not hear any cases from his firm, and the third is seeking to lose financial ties to his firm before hearing more appeals.
Judge Barbier, who is overseeing the settlement, has not decided whether to grant BP’s motion to temporarily stop payments.
1. http://www. nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2013/08/gulf_oil_spill_settlement_clai.html
2. http://www. businessweek.com/news/2013-08-26/bp-misconduct-claims-on-payments-unfounded-official-says-1