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Feds: Interior had ‘inappropriate relationships’ with oil execs

The Denver Post

Feds: Interior had ‘inappropriate relationships’ with oil execs


DENVER — Federal investigators are preparing to release a report detailing improper relationships between oil executives and Interior Department officials who oversee offshore drilling. Criminal charges will be pursued against at least one staffer, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

Up to 10 employees from Interior’s Denver-based Minerals Management Service ran afoul of federal ethics rules. Their interaction with representatives for three major oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, are at issue.

“Inappropriate relationships have been part of the culture,” one source said.

The soon-to-be-released findings by Interior’s Office of the Inspector General are expected to help explain breakdowns in accountability in government energy deals and other questionable activities discovered by the office’s investigators and whistle-blowers in recent years. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have renewed the debate over an expansion of offshore oil drilling.

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