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AWKWARD BP: Lawyer Had ‘Phantom’ Victims Sean Gardner/Getty

BP: Lawyer Had ‘Phantom’ Victims

Better call Saul. On Tuesday, BP accused a Texas lawyer, Mikal C. Watts, of fraud for claiming to represent tens of thousands of clients after the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill—a horde the driller says is nonexistent. BP says it used the client count supplied by Watts when it set aside $2.3 billion for a special compensation program for the seafood industry, but is now asking courts to stop payment and return some of the money. Roughly 80 percent of the people asked to file claims within the program—some 40,000—are clients of Watts, says BP. Meanwhile Watts, who is a prominent lawyer and Democratic fundraiser, issued a statement through his attorney, which said this is just “another of a series of efforts to walk away from the settlement to which it agreed,” and the he, “never committed identity theft and did not defraud BP or anyone else.”

December 18, 2013 7:07 AM