No UBB bribe evidence: Goodwin

SOUTHERN West Virginia’s US Attorney has said that a federal criminal investigation into the April explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch operation does not involve a probe into bribery of mine inspectors by Massey employees.
No UBB bribe evidence: Goodwin No UBB bribe evidence: Goodwin No UBB bribe evidence: Goodwin No UBB bribe evidence: Goodwin No UBB bribe evidence: Goodwin


Donna Schmidt

In a Friday interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, prosecutor R Booth Goodwin denied a Bloomberg report from last week claiming information from an unnamed source that two separate grand juries were investigating whether the company was paying off federal inspectors in exchange for lighter scrutiny.

"The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia knows of no evidence concerning bribery of MSHA [Mine Safety and Health Administration] inspectors in connection with the Upper Big Branch mine, nor are we conducting an investigation in that regard," Goodwin told the paper, but did not comment on any other facets of the investigation.

The Bloomberg report late last week said the anonymous source had confirmed two groups in the West Virginian cities of Charleston and Beckley which had divided the tasks involved in examining allegations of both bribery and the explosion itself.

The wire’s source would not be named due to the secrecy of deliberations.

While Massey did not respond to an ILN request for comment over the weekend, spokesperson Jeff Gillenwater told Bloomberg that a comprehensive investigation by relevant law enforcement agencies was not uncommon.

“Massey has no knowledge of criminal wrongdoing,” he said.

He noted that the producer was “cooperating with all agencies that are investigating the tragedy” at the Raleigh County longwall operation.

“Massey does not and will not tolerate any improper or illegal conduct and will respond aggressively as circumstances warrant.”

Federal and state investigations of the blast are still ongoing.