Judge sets hearing on BP request to halt oil spill payments

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday on BP’s request for an injunction to temporarily halt all payments from its multibillion dollar Gulf oil spill civil settlement.

The British oil giant said in a filing in federal court late Tuesday that it believes an independent investigation of the claims administrator’s office ordered by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier should be allowed to conclude before further payments from the settlement are made.

Barbier said Wednesday in a brief order that he will hear arguments on the matter at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. He said any responses to BP’s motion are due by Thursday.

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Claims administrator Patrick Juneau says he will continue to process claims until the court tells him otherwise.

BP in recent months has aggressively attacked Juneau and his handling of the settlement reached in March 2012, largely because of how Juneau is interpreting terms in the agreement. The result, BP says, has been huge payouts to businesses that didn’t suffer losses. Barbier has previously ruled that Juneau is interpreting the deal correctly.

The independent probe by former FBI Director Louis Freeh involves BP allegations of corruption in how members of Juneau’s staff have handled the processing of claims.