Holder: Oil spill compensation fund to be audited

Jessica M. Karmasek Jul. 21, 2011, 1:26pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday an independent audit will be performed on the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

The GCCF is a fund established for victims of the Gulf oil spill, providing funds for natural resource damages, state and local response costs and individual compensation.

An explosion and fire occurred on Transocean's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, licensed to BP, on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and resulting in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner's request that the Justice Department begin the process of an impartial audit of the GCCF was included in legislation approved by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Report language accompanying the fiscal year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act directs the department to identify an independent auditor to evaluate the GCCF's claims procedures and the qualifications of its employees.

"As we approach the one-year anniversary of the creation of the GCCF, many South Alabama businesses and individuals are still complaining about unfair treatment of their oil spill damage claims by the BP-financed fund that has been tightly controlled by administrator Ken Feinberg," Bonner, an Alabama Republican, said in a statement.

"With BP now calling for the GCCF to wind down payments, it is imperative that an accurate accounting of Mr. Feinberg's claims system be made public."

Bonner said he met with Holder last month and personally asked him to order an impartial audit of the GCCF.

According to The Associated Press, Holder sent a letter to Feinberg, notifying him of the audit.

In a response, Feinberg agreed to the audit, saying it would begin this year but wouldn't disrupt "the timely processing of claims," the AP reported.

According to the AP, the fund has paid nearly $5 billion to $198,475 claimants.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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