BP oil spill: Company fights 'inflated' Gulf spill payouts

By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com  |  June 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM
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BP has paid more than $42 billion in fines, compensation and clean-up since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company owes billions more in unpaid claims -- claims, BP says, that are "inflated" or "do not even exist."

On Wednesday, BP ran full-page ads about the bogus claims in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

"Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it's wrong for anyone to take money they don't deserve," the ad reads.

The ads also claim that U.S. district judge Carl Barbier's ruling "interprets the settlement in a way no one intended," resulting in payouts to businesses that didn't suffer from spill-related losses.

Barbier upheld a claims administrator's interpretation of the settlement in April. Barbier also appointed attorney Patrick Juneau to administrate the settlements, but BP has said Juneau is trying to rewrite the settlement's terms in a way that would subject BP to spending billions more in false claims.

The spill occurred after an explosion that killed 11 workers and dumped millions of barrels' worth of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Major industries along the Gulf Coast suffered, as tourism plummeted and seafood was destroyed. BP says that some of the claims have diverted money from those crippled by the spill.

In one example of the "illogical and absurd" claims, BP documents showed a $21 million payout to a rice mill in Louisiana. The rice mill was 40 miles from the coast, however, and reported higher revenue the year of the spill than in the three previous years.

Companies and individuals found to have filed fictitious claims will have to pay BP back if the company is successful in its July 8 appeal.

Kevin McLean, an attorney that represents clients seeking BP compensation, said that BP is being "deceitful" in its appeal.

"They knew exactly what they were getting into when they negotiated and signed this settlement agreement," McLean said.

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