BP announced in a statement late Monday that it has launched a Gulf Claims Fraud Hotline in order to "help protect the integrity of the claims processes relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill".
The move comes a week after BP launched a new action in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the terms of the mechanism used to make payouts connected to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are being misinterpreted and that payouts are being made to companies unaffected by the disaster.
BP said the fraud hotline will be a reliable resource for people who want to report fraud or corruption connected to Deepwater Horizon compensation payouts.
"Reports should be made of any fraudulent or corrupt activity, no matter where in the claims process it occurs – whether in the solicitation of the claim by attorneys, accountants or other claims preparation services, the preparation of the financial records and claim application, or the processing of the claim – and no matter whether the claim was filed with BP, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), or the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP)," the firm said in a statement.
BP pointed out that recent months had seen U.S. attorneys in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana secure guilty pleas and convictions against a number of individuals for attempting to defraud the claims process and take money to which they are not entitled. The firm also highlighted that, as a result of allegations of unethical and "potentially criminal corrupt behavior within the CSSP itself", the court has appointed Louis Freeh, former Federal judge and FBI Director, as Special Master leading an independent investigation of the CSSP with wide latitude to look for "possible ethical violations or misconduct".
BP said that tips received through the hotline will be reviewed and referred for further evaluation, if warranted, to fraud investigators at the CSSP, the National Center for Disaster Fraud or other law enforcement agencies. Tips that lead directly to an indictment, a recovery of money paid, or the denial of a claim because of fraud or corruption may entitle the reporter to a reward.
BP added: "While BP continues to take steps to stamp out fraud and corruption and assure the integrity of the claims process, the company remains committed to the Gulf and to the payment of legitimate claims for real losses. So far, BP has spent $14 billion on response and cleanup to help restore the environment. The company has also paid more than 300,000 claims totaling over $11 billion to help restore the Gulf economy."
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