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BP Investigated for Potential ERISA Wrongdoing amidst Grave 401(k) Losses

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New York, NYAs the BP oil spill continues to devastate the Gulf Coast, with an estimated 40,000 gallons of crude oil gushing daily into the ocean, a hemorrhage of a different sort has affected BP employees with a stake in BP employee ERISA benefits.

The company's stock has dropped amidst allegations that the company cut corners and ignored safety in an effort to get the well started.

Critics have attacked BP for its handling of what was initially described as a problematic well. The oil industry as a whole has acknowledged a dearth of research and development pertaining to oil spill response, but it appears satisfied that so long as existing checks and balances are observed and maintained during the process of developing and drilling a well, current protocols minimize the risk.

It is when these checks and balances are circumvented that the potential for catastrophe is increased.

While BP is being vilified for its role in what is becoming the worst oil spill in US history, employees of the giant corporation who had no direct involvement in the decisions that led to the spill appear to be suffering in more ways than one.

According to the 6/24/10 issue of Global Newswire, BP employees enrolled in a BP Plan—otherwise known as a 401(K) retirement savings plan—have seen the value of their investments plummet 50 percent since April 20, when the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon took 11 lives and plunged the Gulf Coast into crisis.

That translates to a loss of $1 billion in value in just a few months. Prior to the explosion, the BP Employee Savings Plan was valued at $2 billion.

Investigations are being carried out to determine if violations under the terms of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) may have occurred. Specifically, it is suspected that those charged with the responsibility and management of the BP Plan may have continued to invest the Plan's assets in BP American Depository Shares when it was no longer prudent to do so

Certain fiduciaries with responsibility over the BP Plan may have breached their fiduciary duties to Plan participants. Under ERISA guidelines, they are restricted from investing in stocks or products, or managing the Plan in any fashion that is not strictly in the best interests of Plan participants.

This translates into not only a serious allegation, but an equally serious situation for BP employees who have seen their retirement savings (those held in the BP Plan) decimated. Given the extent of the spill and the uncertain estimates for clean-up, as well as potential criminal charges and the continued worldwide drop in confidence in BP, the worst may yet to come for BP employees—many of whom lack time to make up for any loss or shortfall in BP pension assets.

READ ABOUT BP ERISA PLAN LAWSUITS

BP ERISA Plan Legal Help

If you have suffered losses in this case, please send your complaint to a lawyer who will review your possible [BP ERISA Plan Lawsuit] at no cost or obligation.

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