Miss. AG hopes GCCF audit is fair

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 22, 2011


JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says he hopes an independent audit of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is just that.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that an audit will be performed on the fund set up for victims of the Gulf oil spill.

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, Hood sued Ken Feinberg, the administrator of the fund, in Hinds County Chancery Court in Jackson. He alleges that Feinberg, as head of the fund, has failed to turn over oil spill claims documents requested by the Attorney General's Office.

"It is a shame we had to file a lawsuit to try to force Mr. Feinberg to do the right thing," Hood told The Associated Press Thursday.

"I plan to speak with U.S. Attorney General Holder to ensure this audit is truly independent and in the best interest of the residents of our Gulf Coast."

In March, Hood said he planned to put pressure on Feinberg. The month before, his office served Feinberg with a subpoena asking for full access to the claims records so it could review them.

In his lawsuit, the attorney general says Feinberg has failed to comply with that subpoena and has asked the court to order Feinberg and the claims facility to fully comply.

The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard by Judge Denise Street Owens at 9 a.m. Sept. 15.

Holder, who visited the Gulf Coast last month and heard concerns from officials and residents about the fund, 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."

To date, the GCCF 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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