Washington D.C. June 15, 2010. In a letter submitted to Attorney General Eric Holder today, attorneys for the National Whistleblower Center called on the Department of Justice to investigate BP and the entire oil industry, including contractors and subcontractors, for fraud committed against the U.S. government.
The False Claims Act is the most powerful law available to deter fraud and enforce federal regulations, like those that govern offshore drilling. The letter states, “while the purpose of the False Claims Act is not to protect the environment per se, it is applicable in this case because it is intended to ensure honesty and openness when companies do business with and obtain benefits from the United States, such as a lease.”
The letter continues:
“Facts already on the public record evidence that BP made misrepresentations about its safety and emergency response procedures in order to operate under leases from the United States and profit from offshore drilling. For example, the Associated Press reported a series of material misrepresentations made by BP in both its Deepwater Horizon Plan and its Regional Spill Plan. These misrepresentations and false statements include:
- Vast overstatements of BP’s preparedness to deal with a major leak;
- Vast understatements of the dangers posed to the environment and the public by an uncontrolled leak;
- False statements such as listing a national wildlife expert whom the company would rely upon for its compliance obligations even though this expert had died 4 years prior to the submission of the plan.
See Justin Pritchard, et al “BP Spill response plans severely flawed,” Associated Press (June 9, 2010)
These statements, along with others reported in the national media, constitute compelling evidence that BP violated the False Claims Act (See 31 USC § 3729 et. seq.) to obtain authorization to commence its drilling operations under the lease for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Under the recently amended False Claims Act, all BP contractors and subcontractors who participated in any manner in a violation of the Act would be jointly and severally liable. The investigation into BP must include an investigation into all its contractors and subcontractors.”
The National Whistleblower Center continues to advocate for whistleblower protections for oil industry employees, and urges members of the public to take action by sending letters to Congress supporting best practice whistleblower policies.
Employees looking for legal advice can contact the Legal Assistance of the National Whistleblower Legal Defense & Education Fund.