US federal court judge Carl Barbier has rejected BP‘s plea to halt payments for the victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident that happened in 2010, citing an absence of evidence.
Barbier was quoted by Reuters as saying: "BP has not produced any evidence that would warrant the court taking the drastic step of shutting down the entire claims programme."
Citing the court’s decision as wrong under the law, BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said: "There is a material risk that payments going out the door have been and continue to be tainted by possibly fraudulent or corrupt activity, and BP should not be forced to bear the risks of improper payments."
Meanwhile, an investigation into allegations of misconduct in the payout process is being pursued by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Louis Freeh.
Last week, a group of plaintiffs’ lawyers urged judge Barbier not to consider BP’s proposal to temporarily halt settlement payments to the victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
BP earlier alleged that claims administrator Patrick Juneau helped law firms in processing payments of oil spill victims.
It is estimated that BP’s settlement amount could be worth more than $4.1bn, which is more than half of the money it has set aside.
BP has said that it has been forced to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the estimated $7.8bn cost of the settlement and may have to pay billions more than expected.
Image: Burning gas from Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Photo courtesy of PO3 Patrick Kelle.