Of course, nobody could have seen this coming:
BP has sued a plaintiff’s lawyer active in the compensation process for the 2010 Macondo disaster, alleging that a $2.3 billion agreement aimed at helping seafood hands affected by the oil spill contained thousands of phony claims.
The UK supermajor has accused attorney Mikal Watts of inflating estimates of damages and inventing up to half of his 40,000 clients using fake social security numbers. BP made the claims in a civil lawsuit filed on Tuesday in district court.
Watts, who is also a major political donor to Democratic candidates, stepped down from the plaintiff’s steering committee and federal agents raided his San Antonio office earlier this year as part of a federal investigation, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Watts has filed 648 claims for individual crew members, of which 40% listed Social Security numbers belonging to another living person, while 5% belonged to a dead person. About 13% were “dummy” numbers or incomplete.
Of the claims, only eight were deemed eligible and 17 still pending, according to BP.
I seem to remember remarking at the time of the spill that the Macondo compensation funds would be beset with fraud and unlikely to end up in the hands of those who need it.
And this amused, especially the last line:
BP has long claimed it is losing its shirt over some erroneous Deepwater Horizon spill claims, but now the UK supermajor says the lawyer handling pay-outs has been caught with his pants down.
A $173,000 claim for an “adult escort service” was not only submitted, but actually approved for payment by court-appointed lawyer Patrick Juneau, it was reported recently.
The embattled oil giant said the claim was made alongside unsigned and undated documents.
Juneau hit back, however, saying: “This claim satisfied those requirements agreed upon by BP and class counsel and was paid pursuant to the settlement agreement.”
One can only wonder what other requirements were satisfied once such a large wad of cash was handed over.
Did anyone honestly think this wouldn’t happen?