NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge has rejected BP's request to temporarily halt all settlement payments to Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim they lost money after the company's 2010 oil spill.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled Friday after BP attorneys argued that payments should be suspended while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates alleged misconduct by a lawyer who helped administer the multibillion-dollar settlement program.
Lionel H. Sutton III allegedly received a portion of settlement proceeds for claims he referred to a law firm before joining the staff of court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau.
BP says there is a risk that hundreds of millions of dollars in claims payments could be tainted by fraud. Plaintiffs' attorneys say the company hasn't provided any evidence that Juneau has improperly paid any claims.