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Oil theft lawsuit settled

TULSA, Okla. - An agreement between Koch Oil Industries and Bill Koch has finally been approved, but tribal interests will receive no compensation.

Bill Koch, who sued Koch Industries Inc. for stealing oil from federal and tribal lands, received $7.37 million as his share of the $25 million in the case against the company.

The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of the government under the federal False Claims Act and stated that Koch Industries deliberately cheated oil producers by falsifying oil measurements.

In a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Terry Kern and the U.S. Department of Justice, both sides of the lawsuit have agreed not to disclose terms of the settlement. A spokesman for the Department of Justice however stated that Koch Industries agreed to pay $25 million.

During an interview Bill Koch said he was disappointed that the American Indians who were cheated out of oil revenues won't receive a penny of the settlement.

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The Osage Nation declined to join Bill Koch in the lawsuit even though 44 percent of the oil leases involved in the case were on tribal land.

The company argued in court that it bought hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil, very little of which was from federal or American Indian lands. The company asserted that it was accurate to within fractions of a percent, which placed the accuracy rate well within all industry standards.

Former employees of Koch Industries testified at the 1999 trial they were instructed to alter oil measurements. In his lawsuit Bill Koch claimed those instructions allowed the company to collect more oil than it paid for.

This final settlement came more than a year and a half after the original trial, which ended in December 1999 and ends a long battle between Charles and Bill Koch over the family business based out of Wichita, Kan.

"I think it's in everyone's best interest to bring this case to a close. The taxpayers, the government and the parties who brought the suit all win. It's now time for everyone involved to move forward," said Bill Koch's spokesman Brad Goldstein.