Corrupt Bush DOJ Protected Oil Companies From Prosecutors Too

In case you were afraid that the corrupt Bush/Alberto Gonzales Department of Justice only held back prosecutors who were investigating charges of Republican political corruption, rest easy. They were pulling out all the stops to protect oil companies too.

Senior Justice Department officials blocked the U.S. attorney in Colorado from supporting a whistleblower's suit last year, jeopardizing the government's prospects for recovering as much as $40 million from a major oil company for its alleged underpayment of royalties.

U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said Washington overruled his request to enter the case against the Kerr-McGee Corp. A lawyer for the whistleblower said he was told that decision was made "at the highest levels" of the Justice Department, then run by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"I recommended strongly that we intervene," Eid said. "My view did not prevail."

Moreover, McClatchy found that the Justice Department has participated in only a handful of the 80 whistleblower cases brought against the oil industry since 1995.

When you consider that the $40 million is only from one case out of potentially dozens, we're talking about real money.

Several oil companies including Shell ($56 million)and Conoco Phillips ($97.5 million) have had to settle suits with the government for systematically underpaying royalties for petroleum pumped off federal lands. When you consider that those companies were negotiating with a complicit Bush Department of Justice its easy to imagine the total amount of money stolen from taxpayers winding up in the billions.

Drill, baby, drill, indeed.

More on those settlements in the full entry.

From the release announcing Shell's deal (US Government press release,September 28 2000) :

Shell Oil has agreed to pay the United States $56 million to resolve claims that it underpaid
royalties owed on natural gas produced from federal leases, the Justice Department announced today. Today's
settlement resolves allegations that Shell systematically under reported the value of natural gas that it produced on
federal leases in the Gulf of Mexico from August 1, 1986 to December 31, 1999 and, consequently, paid less royalties
than it owed to the government.

From the release announcing Conoco Phillip's subsidiary Burlington Resources deal (US Government press release August 15, 2007:

Burlington Resources Inc. has agreed to pay the United States $97.5 million to resolve claims
that it underpaid royalties owed on natural gas produced from federal and Indian leases, the Justice Department
announced today. Last year, Burlington became a wholly owned subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, the third largest
integrated energy company in the United States.

The settlement resolves allegations under the False Claims Act that Burlington systematically under-reported
the value of natural gas that it produced from onshore federal and Indian leases from March 1, 1988, to March 31,
2005, and consequently, paid less royalties than it owed to the United States and various Indian tribes.

Tags: alberto gonzales, Oil Accountability Project (all tags)

Comments

1 Comment

nothing surprises me anymore

about this band of criminals. You can be sure that McCain will do nothing different either.

My brother read in some trade publication on energy that Rove specifically urged McCain to pick Palin because he needed someone acceptable to the oil and gas industry.

by desmoinesdem 2008-09-15 01:24PM | 0 recs

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