US steps up scrutiny of funds for asbestos exposure victims

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has stepped up scrutiny of asbestos trust funds out of concern of fraud and abuse.

The Justice Department worries the pots of money intended to help people exposed to the hazardous substance are being depleted by fraudulent claims, harming victims, businesses and the government.

The department in recent months has demanded trust documents for a civil investigation, opposed the creation of another trust it said lacked sufficient safeguards, and argued against the appointment of a lawyer it said was too conflicted to represent victims.

The actions take aim at a system that has paid out billions of dollars to the sick and cancer-stricken, but that critics say is opaque and prone to fraud.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers and asbestos victims’ advocates say there’s scant proof of widespread fraud.

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