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BP wants settlement decision reversed due to fraudulent claims

The tragedy at Deepwater Horizon is still playing out in courts and if BP has its way, it may have some companies in Louisiana slapped with fraud charges. According to the oil giant, the settlement that was approved last year is being taken advantage of thanks to a decision made by the judge presiding over the case. BP alleges that the judge and the appointed claims administrator have misinterpreted the settlement and fictitious claims have been filed and paid due to this alleged misinterpretation.

Provisions of the settlement allow awards to be based on a comparison of companies' revenues and operating costs before and after the world's largest oil spill occurred in 2010. Attorneys for BP allege that thousands of claimants have come forward with false reports of affected revenue, some with no losses at all. Yet these companies are still receiving awards. The oil company believes that claimants are selecting time periods before and after Deepwater Horizon that have larger gaps in revenue and expenses, thus allowing them to be issued a larger portion of the settlement. If this is true, it may constitute fraud.

BP is trying to have the decision that allowed this to be reversed. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans was scheduled to hear the case earlier this month and depending on how they rule, it may dramatically affect the companies that are trying to receive compensation for the damage that the oil spill caused for many Gulf Coast establishments. It is unclear how such a ruling would affect the awards that have already been decided, including one that BP cited in its argument involving a rice mill that was paid $21 million through the settlement even though it had better revenue in 2010 than in any of the previous three years.

Illegitimate claims could be pursued if the decision is reversed. If you have been accused of fraud -- or may be in the future -- prepare your defense by asking for advice from an attorney. Lawyers that specialize in criminal defense can be extremely beneficial to individuals who have been accused of a crime. Source: Louisiana Record, "BP says settlement easy set up for fraud, seeks reversal from appeals court" Marilyn Tennissen, Jul. 08, 2013

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