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Accusations suggest fraud in BP claims process

The 2010 oil spill is still affecting people more than three years later, but in a different way than some might think. According to allegations, a former senior attorney involved with the Court Supervised Settlement Program for the BP oil spill was involved in a fraud scheme that allowed him to receive a kickback of $40,000 for his efforts on a claim worth almost $8 million. Fraud charges were not filed until officials conducted an internal investigation and discovered that there was room for conflicts of interest.

Soon after this potential was discovered, a special investigator was tasked with revealing any illicit behavior. That was when the interested overlap of several parties was alleged. According to officials, the attorney in question received a referral fee from a law firm after they attempted to use his position with the claims center to expedite the multi-million-dollar claim. He denied receiving the payment, which was supposedly laundered through another associated law firm into a water reclamation company that the defendant owns and then allegedly into his wallet. That is, until investigators brought email evidence to the man's attention. It was then that he reportedly admitted that the $40,000 payment was for a referral fee, not the water reclamation efforts of his company.

The special investigator noted that referral fees and their associated contracts must have written agreements. He also said that this was the only such relationship that the law firm in question had in more than 600 claims cases without a written agreement. The investigator suggested that the accused entities be barred from any further involvement within the claims process. Besides that, it is unclear what will happen to this defendant and the law firm that has been accused of paying the referral fee. Recommendations have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking that the federal department determine if any criminal statutes were broken in this case.

Source: Louisiana Record, "BP claims investigation finds attorney took $40K kickback in exchange for referring nearly $8 million claim" Kyle Barnett, Sep. 16, 2013

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