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NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge is set to hear BP s bid to temporarily block all settlement payments to Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim they lost money after the company s 2010 oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier scheduled a hearing Friday to consider whether payments should be suspended while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates alleged misconduct by a lawyer who helped administer the settlement program.

BP says there is a risk that hundreds of millions of dollars in claims payments could be tainted by fraud, corruption and malfeasance unless the judge acts.

A team of plaintiffs attorneys that brokered the multibillion-dollar settlement with BP say the company hasn t provided any evidence that court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau has improperly paid any claims or wrongfully implemented any policies.

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