Signal International offers $20m to settle case with exploited Indian workers

San Francisco: An Alabama-based oil rig repair company will pay $20m to settle a fraud and labour trafficking case, its lawyers said on Tuesday.

Signal International, which is located in the city of Mobile, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

It stands accused of using deceit in its recruitment of hundreds of workers from India in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The workers were brought to the US to repair oil rigs and facilities in the Gulf of Mexico damaged by the hurricane. But Signal made impossible promises of permanent US residency to the workers and their families.

It also charged them $1,050 a month for accommodation which was a guarded labour camp – conditions that a jury in February found “inhumane”. That jury trial in New Orleans was the first of numerous cases brought by some of the Indian workers.

Tuesday’s $20m offer would settle all the outstanding cases if it is approved by a Delaware bankruptcy court. Signal International also issued a formal apology to the workers.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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