05.26.10

Leahy And Other Senators Ask Attorney General To Look Into Transocean’s Plans To Distribute $1 B. In Dividends

...Company’s Payouts Could Limit Its Gulf Spill Liability

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, May 26) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and 17 other senators are asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to look into financial transactions of Transocean Ltd.  Just weeks after the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig was destroyed in the Gulf of Mexico, the corporation announced intentions to distribute $1 billion to private shareholders.

In the letter to Holder, the senators question if the move by Transocean is an attempt to shield the company from lawsuits.  The move may also make it harder for those in the Gulf who are harmed by the oil spill to obtain damages from Transocean.

“Transocean should not profit from a disaster that is costing so many so much,” Leahy said.  He is concerned that such swift action to move money out of corporate coffers to individual investors may make it more difficult to pursue any potential liability claims against the company in the wake of this historic disaster. Eleven men died in the explosion, the Gulf fishing industry and its communities have been devastated, wetlands that have been ravaged, and governments at all levels have been working full time to mitigate the damage.

The letter also notes that in addition to limiting their liability for the oil spill, Transocean also stands to make a $270 million profit from insurance on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was insured for more than it was worth.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) initiated the letter, which was signed by Leahy and Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D- Colo.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.).

The letter is available online at leahy.senate.gov.

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