Barbier said in the order that Freeh’s duties would not be confined to allegations involving the attorney, but would be a broader look at the claims settlement program. The order states that Freeh would be charged with “fact-finding as to any other possible ethical violations or other misconduct” within the settlement program. The order does not specify compensation for Freeh and his consulting company.
The class-action settlement isn’t capped, but BP initially estimated it would pay $7.8 billion to resolve tens of thousands of claims by Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim the spill cost them money. Now the London-based oil giant says it can’t reliably estimate how much the settlement will cost if the 5th Circuit doesn’t overturn Barbier’s rulings.
The allegations against Sutton are outlined in a report that Juneau provided to Barbier during a closed-door meeting in his chambers on June 20.
The report says a “confidential source” who contacted Juneau’s security chief accused Sutton of trying to influence a claim filed by a New Orleans-based law firm. The same firm allegedly paid Sutton a portion of settlement payments for claims he had referred to it before he went to work for Juneau in November 2012.
Sutton denied the allegations when Juneau discussed them with him, according to the report.
The report also indicates that Juneau’s security head, David Welker, notified the FBI’s New Orleans division about the lawyer’s alleged misconduct. Welker until recently was the special agent in charge of the FBI office in New Orleans.