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Judge Barbier okays $500 million disbursement into oil spill fund that is marked by fraud

The Louisiana Record reports on the news of U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s decision to release a second round of settlement money to fishermen seeking damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, despite evidence of fraud throughout the seafood program.

The Louisiana Record notes that the settlement program has been a “big target for those filing fraudulent claims. Most notably, San Antonio attorney Mikal Watts resigned from the PSC after BP alleged that he falsified up to 43,000 ‘phantom’ claims based primarily on non-existent clients with fake Social Security numbers and even those belonging to the deceased.”

BP hired Lester Alexander III, a certified public accountant, to examine the seafood claims. He found that about 78 percent of the claims did not include any tax documents, and of the 22 percent that did include tax forms, more than three-quarters of them were not signed, suggesting that they were never filed with the IRS.

BP has noted the fact that Patrick Juneau has refused to require claimants to file tax documents. Juneau has said he sees no reason to require that claimants file tax data as part of their requests for damage.

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