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BP loses bid to block payments to fishermen as compensation after 2010 oil spill

Published on Feb 27, 2014 10:21 AM
A sign for a BP petrol station in London on Oct 30, 2012. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - A US federal judge on Wednesday denied BP Plc's request to halt payments from the US$2.3 billion (S$2.9 billion) fund it created to compensate commercial fishermen for financial losses after the British company's 2010 offshore oil spill, according to court records.

BP had sought to block the payments after alleging that some individuals supposedly injured by the spill, clients of attorney Mikal Watts, did not exist. The company said it has already paid out more than US$1 billion from the so-called Seafood Compensation Fund.

US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who is overseeing litigation stemming from the spill, denied the motion on Wednesday, according to an entry on the court docket. The judge also granted Mr Watts's motion to stay BP's civil action against him over the alleged fraud pending a related federal criminal investigation.

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement the company believed that Mr Watts' representations "improperly increased the perceived value of the potential seafood claims during settlement negotiations and resulted in an inflated US$2.3 billion fund."

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