Report: More Than 300 Convicted Over Fraudulent BP Oil Spill Claims
In the nearly seven years since the disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion, BP paid billions to resolve hundreds of thousands of claims from people affected by the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
But newly released documents show that the energy giant also faced hundreds of fraudulent claims during that span.
The Financial Times, citing records disclosed by the Justice Department following a Freedom of Information Act request, reported that 311 people were convicted on charges relating to filing false claims as of last September, and that of those, 102 were sentenced to prison.
Seven were given at least five years in jail, including one person that received 15 years.
BP argued several years ago that the fraudulent claims were “bad for American business” overall, but attorneys that represented claimants countered that the hundreds of fraud cases paled in comparison to the number of legitimate claims.
FT reported that BP’s initial compensation fund for the disaster paid 220,000 claims and that another 153,000 were paid by the end of 2016.
BP reportedly set aside more than $18 billion to compensate victims, which is part of the disaster’s overall cost to the company of $62 billion. About 1,000 claims remain pending, according to court documents.
Critics largely dismissed BP’s efforts to emphasize the number of fraudulent claims in past years, with one noting “inherent social injustice of imprisoning over a hundred people for filing false claims against BP, but no one responsible for the disaster itself.”
Prosecutors filed charges against four people in connection with the April 2010 blast; two pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and avoided jail time, while the others were acquitted.
The company itself will pay the largest civil settlement in U.S. history over its role in the spill.