Ohio state officials filed a lawsuit against London-based BP Plc on Monday, claiming that the company had wrongfully collected over $33 million in reimbursements from the state to clean up storage tank leaks. However, BP said that the company acted in good faith and that it would defend itself in the case.
Ohio prosecutors said that BP took state funds and money from insurers to clean up accidental leaks from underground storage tanks at its gas stations around the state, according to The Associated Press. The lawsuit against the oil major was filed by the state’s attorney general and the Ohio Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board, which administers funds as a last resort when tank owners lack coverage or don’t accept insurance money. The lawsuit alleges that the oil giant wrongfully acquired over $33 million from the fund in a process known as “double dipping.”
“Our lawsuit alleges that BP knowingly and intentionally took more than $33 million that it was not eligible to accept,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement, according to The Columbus Dispatch, adding: “BP has to follow the same rules as other businesses and can’t engage in misconduct without consequence.”
The suit alleges that the company did not reveal that it had hundreds of insurance policies and cites 2,651 claims filed by BP to prove that it had received payments from the fund. The state is currently also reviewing an additional 905 claims worth $22.3 million, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The fund was formed in 1989 and has paid out $221 million so far. The case also claims that BP and the companies later acquired by it, received more money from the fund than any other company.
Jason Ryan, a spokesman for BP, said in an email, according to Cleveland.com, a local news website, that the company "acted at all times in good faith and believes its dealings with the Ohio state underground storage tank fund have been proper."
BP is also being tried in New Orleans for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, for which it faces a fine of nearly $14 billion. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier had estimated, in January, the size of the spill at 3.19 million barrels, though the federal government had earlier estimated that 4.09 million barrels worth of oil had spilled into the sea in the incident, an assessment that would have valued the fine at $17.6 billion.