Transocean the operator of the Deep Horizon oil rig has come up with a slick little trick to avoid fiscal damages for the disaster. The company is already registered in Switzerland so they pay no taxes in the U.S.
Now they have decided to distribute $1 billion to shareholders.
When a company facing claims that exceed its assets makes distributions out to its shareholders, this may be attacked as a preference or a fraudulent conveyance under debtor-creditor law in many jurisdictions. But moving the money down the line to shareholders makes it much more unlikely that much of it will ever be recovered by the parties suffering from the leaks in the Gulf of Mexico—like fishermen, owners of coastal resorts, and the United States, which is now preparing to assume control of the efforts to stem the leak and launch a clean-up following the demonstrated inability of British Petroleum, Halliburton, and Transocean to do so.