U.S. Justice Department joins suit alleging royalty fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined in a private lawsuit that alleges four oil companies knowingly undervalued oil production in order to lower the royalties they paid the U.S. and other landowners. U.S. Atty. Mike Bradford of Beaumont, Tex., said private parties originally filed the suit in U.S. District Court at Lufkin, Tex., under the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to sue on behalf of the U.S. and receive part of the damages recovered. The court sealed the case while DOJ investigated the allegations to determine whether to intervene and prosecute the case. Bradford said the original complaint alleged 14 companies violated the False Claims Act by knowingly un...

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