Kenneth Feinberg, overseer of the $20 billion fund for victims of the oil spill, says he will use federal fraud investigators to sniff out bogus claims and protect personal information because "nothing can destroy the credibility of a program quicker than allegations of fraud."
In an interview airing Saturday on Bloomberg Television, Feinberg says his office should be processing claims within about 30 days. The next step, he says in a separate interview with The Financial Times, is to make sure state laws are consistent so all victims are treated fairly.
"How do we deal with a restaurant in Boston that can't get shrimp for its favorite dish or the strip joint in New Orleans where business is off because the fishermen aren't coming in?" Feinberg asks. "... Would your claim be applicable under state and, in this case, maritime law? If the state would recognize it, then I will recognize it. If not, I should not."
In a busy day of interviews and public appearances, Feinberg traveled to LaRose, La., where told an audience it was also important to make sure BP isn't destroyed in the process.
"There is absolutely no sense at all driving BP into bankruptcy," he said, a point he expanded on three days ago in an interview on Fox News:
That would be a horror. If BP ever were — was unable to pay valid claims because of bankruptcy, that would be a disaster for the — for BP, it would be a disaster for the people in the Gulf, it would be a disaster for the economy of the Gulf. I think that is not an option.
And I must say, to those who criticize this fund as somehow driving BP toward the brink, I would only add that this fund is — is, in one sense, a very important lifesaver for BP. ... The alternative is to litigate against BP in court for a decade or more. You don't know if you're going to prevail. You've got to give your lawyer 40 or 40 percent contingency.
It seems to me that this facility — independent facility — is a win for the people of the Gulf and, frankly, a win for BP, as well.