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BP Pays a Crony - News by Anthony Ricigliano
By Anthony Ricigliano: BP's much publicized compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims has received over 91,000 requests for final damage settlement payments from people and businesses across the Gulf but has only issued one.
BP has not divulged the name of the recipient due to disclosure issues. BP has admitted that it went to bat for their partner to make it the first one to be paid from the $20 billion compensation fund, known as “The Gulf Coast Claims Facility”. The amount paid to BP’s partner company dwarfs the stopgap payments which have been parceled out while people wait for final settlements.
Another galling aspect of the $10 million payment is that final payments to the remaining 91,000 claimants won’t begin until February at the earliest, according to the administrator of the facility. The fund's administrator is Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, whose firm is being paid $850,000 per month to run the facility. To no one’s surprise Feinberg’s firm has come under intense criticism as well by lawmakers, plaintiffs’ attorneys and claimants who have repeatedly complained that Feinberg’s the facility has no transparency, is running at the behest of BP, has shortchanged claims, and is dragging its feet on payments. You can’t blame Feinberg for this; he is currently negotiating with BP to revamp the pay structure and extend the administration of the facility through August 2013.
While a BP spokesperson claimed that the funding facility "reviewed our positions and made an independent decision regarding the outcome of the claim," Feinberg was independent enough to say on Monday that the facility was never requested to review the claim that BP lobbied for. Feinberg stated that BP struck an outside deal with the business and told the fund to make the payment.
Feinberg told AP that, "At the request of the parties, the settlement reached between BP and the other party was paid out of the GCCF fund. It was a private settlement and we paid it, but we were not privy to the settlement negotiations between BP and that party.”
There is also an appeals process which runs through the U.S. Coast Guard for disgruntled claimants, but that agency isn’t doing claimants any favors either. Of 264 appeals that have been processed, the finding in every one of them was that the facility acted correctly in either denying claims or paying small fraction of what was requested.
It appears that residents and businesses that incurred damages from BP’s blowout are still being held in complete disregard by the people with the money. It’s still rough, unless of course you’re a crony of BP.
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