A federal jury in Denver found that the Kerr-McGee Corp. defrauded the federal government of millions of dollars in royalties on oil it produced in publicly owned coastal waters.
A former Interior Department auditor was the whistle-blower who brought the suit against Kerr-McGee. His superiors at the department had ordered him to drop his audit findings and he proceeded as a private citizen. He was dismissed from the department in a “reorganization.”
The New York Times reported that the jury found that Kerr-McGee had underpaid the government $7.5 million. Since the False Claims Act provides for treble damages and penalties for violations, the company may be forced to pay more than $30 million.
MarketWatch ran a January 24, 2007 story on the verdict.