Business Briefs: BP balks at paying claims administrator

August 7, 2013 

NEW ORLEANS -- BP is balking at paying more than $130 million in administrative fees to the court-supervised administrator of its multi-billion dollar settlement with Gulf Coast businesses and residents after the 2010 oil spill, claiming the settlement program has been plagued by poor productivity and excessive costs.

A federal magistrate has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on whether BP PLC should be ordered to fund claims administrator Patrick Juneau's proposed third-quarter budget.In a letter dated Monday, BP claims official Maria Travis said the company cannot determine if Juneau's budget request is reasonable without more documentation."It would be unreasonable to approve a budget that validates and incentivizes the various claims administration vendors to perpetuate their track record of poor productivity and excessive costs," Travis wrote to Juneau's office.

Separately, BP has asked a judge to suspend all settlement payments while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates allegations of misconduct by an attorney who worked on Juneau's staff. Lionel H. Sutton III, who resigned on June 21, is accused of receiving a portion of settlement proceeds for claims he referred to a law firm before he went to work for Juneau.U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected that request last month, but BP renewed its request for a temporary halt in payments on Monday, citing new allegations of fraud and conflicts of interest inside the settlement program.

Stocks extend lossesfor second day

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks extended losses into a second day Tuesday as Federal Reserve official Charles Evans said the economy should be able to shoulder reduced Fed asset purchases later this year."It's more of this taper tempest that we seem to go into. The market gets a little confused; it seems fine as long as the talk around taper is around data, but it gets flustered when you talk about the calendar," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive for investments at PNC Wealth Management.

"There appears to be a lot on our plates as we get into fall season, with budget talks, a new Fed chair and the debt ceiling, which might lead the market to churn here a bit," said Dunigan, who added that the market has reached an inflection point, given its "fairly significant upside performance," with the S&P 500 up 19 percent so far this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 93.39 points, or 0.6 percent, to end at 15,518.74, with International Business Machine Corp. leading decliners among the Dow's 30 components.IBM's shares fell 2.3 percent after the computer-services company reportedly said U.S. employees in its hardware unit would take a week's furlough with reduced pay in August and after Credit Suisse downgraded the tech giant to underperform from neutral.The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.77 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,697.37. The Nasdaq composite

shed 27.18 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,665.77.

Gold coins of Nevada recluse sold at auction

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The last of a fortune of coins found in the Carson City garage of a recluse who died last summer has been auctioned off for more than $3 million.

Brittany Carlson of Silver State Coin in Reno made the winning bid Tuesday on three of the six lots, including one with 880 $20 gold Saint Gaudens that went for nearly $1.8 million.

Allen Rowe of the Carson City-based Northern Nevada Coin and Bullion bought two lots of $20 gold Liberty Heads and Indian Heads for a total of about $800,000.

The Illinois-based Rare Coin Company of America bought one lot for $630,000.

The other half of the estate sold at auction in February for about $3.5 million.

Cleaning crews found the rare coins after Walter Samaszko died in June 2012.

-- Herald wire reports

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