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Kenneth Feinberg: BP Plc Employee?

The press recently reported on payments to Feinberg Rozen LLP to oversee British Petroleum’s fund for the Gulf Oil spill. As reported,

Kenneth Feinberg and his law firm have been paid more than $2.5 million in 3 1/2 months to administer the $20 billion fund set up by BP Plc to compensate victims of its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In many (if not most) earlier reports, Feinberg was championed for his “independence.” Here are two examples:

Per Bloomberg:

Kenneth Feinberg, the independent paymaster chosen by President Obama to administer damage claims from the Gulf oil spill, will drop the contractor that BP has been using to manage the claims process and hire two new companies to replace it.

Per ProPublica:


Feinberg, 64, who ran the fund for victims of the 9/11 attacks and was special U.S. master for executive pay, was chosen by BP and President Barack Obama to compensate those affected by the largest U.S. oil spill.

Unfortunately, we now discover

The compensation disclosure underscores that Feinberg is an employee of BP, raising “concerns about the management of the fund,” said Tyson Slocum, director of energy programs for Public Citizen, an advocacy group in Washington, said in a phone interview today.

And while Feinberg claims to believe (in theory) in transparency

“I certainly do see the implication of your question, which is there could be a perception that since BP is paying, shouldn’t we have more transparency or full disclosure? And I agree with that.”

His actions seem to conflict with these stated values

Feinberg initially declined to disclose his salary. He later told reporters he would do so as part of his effort to make the claims process as transparent as possible and reassure critics . . . he still hasn’t disclosed how much he is making personally from running the BP fund.

Additionally, there is also the question on timing of payments. He appears to have been paid for the two months between signing his contract and actually starting his job.

Feinberg is expected to take over the claims system from BP in mid-August.

But, he was paid

a fee of $850,000 a month from mid-June, when Feinberg agreed to run the claims facility . . .

What kind of talent is BP getting for its money? Who is actually doing the work on Feinberg Rozen LLP's team?

Among those being paid is Feinberg’s brother David, according to the report. David Feinberg is listed on the firm’s website as director of special projects.