Costner pans Baldwin role in oil skimmer company

Fri Jun 8, 2012 3:33pm EDT
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Kevin Costner downplayed fellow actor Stephen Baldwin's role in a venture that made oil cleanup devices when he testified on Friday in a lawsuit accusing him of cheating Baldwin in a multimillion-dollar deal to sell the devices to BP Plc.

"I wondered what Stephen Baldwin was doing," Costner said in his first direct mention of Baldwin since the trial began on Monday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. "I never saw him do anything."

The federal lawsuit brought against Costner by Baldwin and business partner Spyridon C. Contogouris claims Costner cheated them by hiding details about the deal through which BP bought 32 oil and water separation devices developed by a company owned by Costner.

Both actors once invested in Ocean Therapy Solutions, the company that owned the oil-separating centrifuges.

BP made an $18 million advance payment for oil extraction devices to be used after the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the lawsuit, Baldwin and Contogouris claim they were not told about the deal with BP before they agreed to sell their shares in the company that had been set up to market Costner's extraction devices. As a result, they claim they were duped out of part of the $18 million deposit.

The plaintiffs want damages of $15 million to $20 million, according to Baldwin's attorney. Costner's attorney, Wayne Lee, has said that Baldwin and Contogouris are not entitled to any payments because they sold their share in the company before the deal with BP was sealed.

On Friday, Costner, dressed in a tan suit, at times seemed critical of himself. "Gosh I'm terrible," he said as he struggled to articulate the company's financial workings.   Continued...

A combination photo shows actor Stephen Baldwin (L) at the premiere of the film "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" in New York in a December 19, 2011 file photo and actor Kevin Costner at the premiere of television series "Hatfields and McCoys" at Milk Studios in Los Angeles, California, in a May 21, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (L) and Bret Hartman/Files