When BP agreed to the Economic & Property Damages Settlement in the Spring of 2012, the company was desperate to portray itself as an apologetic, contrite corporate entity hell bent on “making things right in the Gulf.” BP announced the Settlement with the following remark by CEO Bob Dudley:
“BP made a commitment to help economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast, and this Settlement provides the framework for us to continue delivering on that promise, offering those affected full and fair compensation, without waiting for the outcome of a lengthy trial process.” (emphasis added) – April 18, 2012
Lead BP attorney Richard Godfrey echoed this sentiment when asking Federal Judge Carl Barbier to approve the deal:
“The settlement is placing large sums of money today and tomorrow and next week into the hands and the communities of the Gulf, the victims of this tragic event. We believe that it’s fair, just and reasonable, and that this process should not be interrupted or stopped based upon the objections of the few for the purpose of injuring the many who need to be compensated now.” (emphasis added) – Fall, 2012
At the time those words were uttered, BP needed to demonstrate to the American public, and more importantly the prosecuting United States Department of Justice, that the company was willing to take its medicine. The 2012 Settlement with the people and businesses of the Gulf indeed provided BP with an inordinate amount of goodwill which translated into a relatively light criminal penalty. While BP had not been able to buy itself a get out of jail free card, it certainly got out at a deep discount.
Once confident that the USDOJ would let it off the hook, BP within days did an about face, attacking almost every element of its once cherished Settlement Agreement and the Claims Administrator hired to process and pay claims pursuant to same. These attacks have turned what was once a two to three month claims evaluation process into a two-plus year wait for victims. So much for BP’s feigned concern about folks being “compensated now.”
Rubbing salt in our wounds, the past few SEC earnings filings include these empathetic jewels from BP leadership:
“We will fight through the courts until matters are resolved properly, however long that takes.” (emphasis added)- Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP Chairman, 2013 Annual report released January 2014
Then as recently as the July 29, 2014 Q2 earnings conference call, BP CEO Bob Dudley said of the Settlement Agreement:
“… we fully intend to stay the course in all matters relating to this litigation. … There’s lots of … things that we are debating and arguing about.”
Then on the same earnings call, CFO Brian Gilvary weighs in with this:
“The only thing that’s changed this quarter is our current view of where we are on litigation. We now expect that to take a long, long time in terms of resolution.”
Nice to hear guys. It appears that BP says one thing while doing the exact opposite. Is this inadvertent? Judge Barbier doesn’t think so:
“This Court accepted BP’s previous position when it certified the Settlement Class and approved the Settlement on December 21, 2012. The Court further finds that BP’s change of position was not inadvertent.” –Judge Carl Barbier, Order & Reasons, December 24, 2013
It’s as if this convicted corporate felon has forgotten that it settled this case in 2012, saying then:
“The settlement that has been reached to resolve this litigation is a compromise, a yielding of the highest hopes in exchange for certainty and resolution. The settlement stands alone, however, in its substantive generosity to the class members and in its procedural fairness.” – BP Lead Attorney Rick Godfrey, Fall 2012
“Compromise,” “yielding,” “generosity,” “fairness,” “resolution,” these terms describe the antithesis of BP’s behavior with regard to the Settlement. It is an outrage.
For the people of the Gulf, bankruptcy is increasingly the result of all of this “debating and arguing” over a Settlement. In fact, last night, the Claims Administrator released the following statement admitting that BP’s interference with the process will result in much longer waits for victims.
“Policy 495 Matching of Revenue and Expenses (Posted July 31, 2014). At the direction of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the District Court instructed the Claims Administrator to adopt and implement an appropriate policy to address BEL claims with revenues and variable expenses that are not sufficiently matched. In response, the Claims Administrator developed Policy 495, which provides 1) the procedure to determine whether a claim is sufficiently matched and 2) the methodologies by which to match claims determined to be not sufficiently matched.”
“The Claims Administrator’s Office has initiated the process of implementing this Policy into the BEL claim review. Policy 495 is a broad, complex, and multifaceted policy affecting nearly every BEL claim currently with the Program. Policy 495 calls for separate analyses (Annual Variable Margin, Construction, Agriculture, Educational Institutions, Professional Services, Start-Up BEL, Failed BEL, and Failed Start-Up BEL) depending on the industry of the business of the claimant.”
“Due to the complex nature of Policy 495, the actual process of reviewing claims will take more time as additional analysis and claimant inquiry is required, including the potential need for the claimant to submit additional documentation to perform the requisite matching analysis.”
“The Claims Administrator requests your patience and cooperation as we implement this complex Policy. The Claims Administrator and his staff are devoted and committed to reviewing claims as efficiently, as accurately, and as fairly as possible, while adhering to the provisions of the Settlement Agreement and the orders of the Court.”