The Herald Bulletin

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July 17, 2013

BP seeks halt to Gulf oil spill settlement payouts

(Continued)

NEW ORLEANS —

Sutton's wife, Christine Reitano, also worked as a lawyer for the settlement program, but her contract was terminated on June 26. A report from Juneau to Barbier dated July 2 doesn't specify a reason for the termination of Reitano's contract.

Barbier appointed Freeh on July 2 to lead an independent probe of the allegations involving Sutton and to take a broader look at the settlement program. The judge's order says Freeh is charged with "fact-finding as to any other possible ethical violations or other misconduct" within the settlement program.

Freeh, a former federal judge who served as FBI director from 1993 to 2001, founded a consulting firm in 2007.

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said the company believes a temporary pause of all claims payments is "prudent and necessary" during Freeh's investigation. In the filing, BP lawyers argued there is a "material risk that other aspects of the claims process have been compromised."

" ... Given these risks, business cannot continue as usual," the attorneys wrote. "On average, the CSSP is making more than $73 million in claims payments per week. It would be impractical if not impossible for BP to recover all tainted payments made by the CSSP during the investigation."

"No company would agree to bear the risk of improper payments in these circumstances," Morrell said in a statement. "BP is simply seeking to pause payments while Judge Freeh completes his court-ordered investigation."

"Put simply, BP did not bargain for, and should not have to bear the risk of, improper payments due to fraud or corruption," the company's attorneys said.

Asked about BP's motion, Juneau wrote in an email Tuesday that his office "has not seen or reviewed the motion. Additionally, we cannot comment on the motion since this issue will be before the Court."

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