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BP oil spill payments to be investigated by ex-FBI chief

The fire at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig
Image caption In BP set aside $7.8bn (£5.2bn) to cover the likely compensation bill for civil claims

A former FBI chief will probe alleged misconduct over payments to settle claims for the BP Gulf oil spill.

Louis Freeh was appointed by Judge Carl Barbier, who is hearing civil cases over the disaster in 2010.

BP, which has warned that the compensation system is being abused, welcomed the appointment.

It hoped Mr Freeh would lead a "thorough investigation into the recent allegations of unethical and potentially criminal behaviour".

The explosion of the oil rig killed 11 workers and released an estimated four million barrels of oil into the Gulf and along the coastline.

BP put aside $7.8bn (£5.2bn) when it agreed to pay compensation in 2012, but the company has become increasingly concerned that the final figure would be much higher.

Judge Barbier said on Tuesday: "The court has concluded that in order to ensure the integrity of the program for the benefit of the parties and the public, an independent, external investigation of this matter should be performed."

BP said in its statement that Mr Freeh had been granted "wide latitude" to look for other possible misconduct within the Court Supervised Settlement Program.

BP has no control over its payments to claimants, having agreed to a compensation formula and framework in a legal settlement covering certain personal and business liabilities.

Mr Freeh was a federal judge in New York before serving as FBI director from 1993 to 2001. He founded his consulting firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, in 2007.

After being appointed on Tuesday, he met with Judge Barbier, BP representatives and top plaintiff attorneys.

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