Thursday, September 11, 2008

US oil corruption

Some US government employees have tried to hide their close association with the industry they were supposed to be regulating, the report says.

The investigation appears to have been prompted by an internal whistle-blower's report in 2006, and concerns activity from 2002 to 2006 by the department responsible for selling the oil and gas the government collects as rent from companies drilling on federal lands.

The report alleges inappropriate behavior by 19 members of the Royalty in Kind program -- about one-third of the department. Some have since left the department, making it unclear what kind of disciplinary action they could be subject to.

The Department of Justice declined to prosecute two former employees named in the report, the inspector general said, without saying why. Another pleaded guilty to a criminal charge.

The investigation turned up e-mails in which MMS employees "preparing to attend industry events used such language as 'this trip is to be kept quiet,' or were asked to RSVP 'in private' by their supervisor," the report says.

One of these employees when asked why they needed to avoid discussing their social activities with industry, he responded with a slight chuckle, 'They might have, you know, contacted the [inspector general],' the report says.

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