WASHINGTON – The Justice Department and BP announced Monday that they have finished negotiations to implement a $20 billion fund for victims of the Gulf oil spill and that BP has made a $3 billion initial deposit.
Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli said the department is pleased that BP made an initial contribution and had taken "an important step toward honoring its commitment to the president and the residents and business owners in the Gulf region."
The company still needs to ensure that all the necessary funds will be available if something happens to the BP subsidiary that established the trust and that the Justice Department looks forward to completing an appropriate security arrangement in the near future, said Perrelli.
Bob Dudley, CEO of BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, said that establishing the trust and "making the initial deposit ahead of schedule further demonstrates our commitment to making it right in the Gulf Coast." BP had said it would make the deposit by the end of September.
An additional $2 billion deposit will be made in the fourth quarter of 2010. Thereafter, $1.25 billion will be deposited per quarter until $20 billion has been deposited.
Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's pay czar, takes over processing claims from the $20 billion oil spill compensation fund later this month.
BP announced that two trustees will administer the account: John S. Martin, a former U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York; and Kent Syverud, dean of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.
"We're independent trustees," Syverud said in an interview. "Neither of us has connections with BP or with the oil industry or with the White House. Our duty is to make sure the money is there. There's some oversight of how the money is paid out."