Former FBI chief to investigate BP oil spill payments

Louis Freeh will probe into claims of the BP Gulf oil spill.

New Statesman
Louis Freeh. Credit: Getty Images.

A former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been appointed to conduct an independent investigation into alleged misconduct over payments to settle claims filed by people who were affected by the BP Gulf oil spill disaster in 2010.

Louis Freeh’s appointment was made by Carl Barbier, a US district judge who is hearing the civil cases of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that caused significant civil and environment damages.

Barbier said: “The court has concluded that in order to ensure the integrity of the program for the benefit of the parties and the public, an independent, external investigation of this matter should be performed.”

Geoff Morrell, a spokesman of BP, told the Associated Press: “We believe that Judge Freeh’s experience on the federal bench and as director of the FBI make him ideally suited to conduct a thorough investigation into the recent allegations of unethical and potentially criminal behavior within the program.”

Last year, BP set aside $7.8bn (£5.2bn) to pay compensation for the disaster, but the firm has been increasingly concerned that it may end up paying more.

The British oil and gas giant had urged for an independent probe following allegations that a lawyer working for the administrator of the payments received a portion of the settlement proceeds for claims had referred to a law firm in New Orleans.

In April 2010, the explosion at Deepwater Horizon leaked millions of gallons of oil into the water and killed 11 workers.

Freeh, best known for investigating high-profile cases, became the director of the FBI in 1993.