Saturday 17 March 2018

Actors Baldwin and Costner in court face-off over multi-million dollar BP deal

David Usborne in New Orleans

AN unlikely sequel to the disaster movie that was the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago opened in a New Orleans courtroom yesterday, with top billing going to two famous faces from the world of Hollywood -- Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin, both of whom are expected to testify.

In a lawsuit, Mr Baldwin alleges that he and a friend were wrongfully kept out of the loop when they sold shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions, a company headed by Mr Costner, just at the moment it was sealing a highly lucrative deal to sell BP centrifuge equipment designed to separate oil from water.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, began with jury selection and an admonition to prospective jurors from the judge that they should not be swayed by the movie-star status of the main protagonists.

Mr Costner and Mr Baldwin have been ordered by the judge to attend court every day while the trial continues "because of the seriousness of the claims and issues raised by the parties".

Mr Baldwin and his friend, Spyridon Contogouris, are seeking $21m (€16.8m) in damages from Mr Costner and his co-defendants.

They allege that in June 2010, when they sold their stakes in Ocean Therapy for $1.4m (€1.2m) and $500,000 (€400,000) respectively, they had no idea the company had only days earlier negotiated a deal with BP to supply it with 32 centrifuges.

The order was worth $52m (€41m) and a few of the devices were indeed deployed by the oil giant on barges a month later as part of its attempt to contain the Macondo spill.

A filing by Mr Costner, however, insists that he had not attended a meeting at which Mr Baldwin and Mr Contogouris agreed to sell their shares and indeed was disappointed when he later found out. (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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