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BP: Oust claims head for conflict of interest

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP PLC has asked a federal judge to remove the administrator of damage claims from its 2010 oil spill, saying he failed to disclose a major conflict of interest and spends too much on administration: $1 billion over two years, or $1 for every $5 sent to claimants.

Patrick Juneau is not the neutral person required for the job because he represented Louisiana in talks setting up the claims process and pushed for favorable terms for those with claims, attorneys for BP said in a 43-page motion filed Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

BP said that if Barbier does not think the company has provided enough evidence to remove Juneau immediately, it wants him to hold a hearing on the matter.

In a written statement, Juneau said Tuesday that he will respond in court to the issues BP raised.

Juneau's quarterly reviews have found error rates of 12 percent or more on claims, despite a budget "equal to more than 7 percent of the annual budget of the entire federal judiciary," BP argued. It said the error rate "should be unacceptable to any reasonable and prudent claims administrator."

The company said it recently obtained correspondence between Juneau's law firm and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility showing he argued as Louisiana's lawyer for liberal compensation, flexible documentation requirements and other terms that would help Louisiana claimants at BP's expense. He has continued to push for such matters as administrator, the attorneys argued.

Juneau was legally required to disclose any conflict of interest, but didn't do so, the company said.

BP's Macondo well blew wild in April 2010 and was capped that July.

According to BP's motion, Juneau worked for the state from July 2010 until July 21, 2011.

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