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BP Spill Payout Probe Finds Corruption and Lets Money Keep Flowing

For months, something has seemed awry with the multibillion-dollar BP oil spill settlement. Now an investigation by ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh has produced a perplexing set of initial findings: Freeh endorsed the Louisiana-based settlement administrator even as he found that some of the administrator’s handpicked senior aides may deserve to be criminally prosecuted for corrupting the payout process.

As I wrote in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover story, the private claims process following BP’s 2010 Gulf spill led to some eyebrow-raising demands for oil-company cash. BP has already paid out more than $25 billion in damage claims and cleanup costs, and the company asked the presiding federal judge, Carl Barbier of New Orleans, to intervene. He declined, but in early July he appointed Freeh as a special master to investigate.