Mary Limpy (Gracemont, Oklahoma)

“Koch Oil, the largest purchaser of Indian oil in the country, is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting.” –U.S. Senate

In 1987 Mary Limpy, a Cheyenne-Arapaho living in the vicinity of Koch oil wells, stopped receiving her usual stream of royalty checks from the company. Ms. Limpy, physically disabled by polio and unable to work, was unable to apply for public assistance because of her royalty-owner status. She could no longer pay her bills or even buy food for her children, who were later taken into foster care.

Koch Industries never explained why the checks started coming irregularly or not at all.

But in 1989, a Special Committee on investigations of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Indian Affairs found that the company was purposefully under-reporting the amount of oil they were extracting from Native American land, in order to increase profits by underpaying royalty holders.

Investigators found that Koch Industries had reported fraudulent figures for up to 75 percent of the oil they were extracting from Indian wells in Oklahoma from 1985 to 1989.

It worked—leading to a 30% increase in profits in 1988 alone, or $7.1 million from almost 500,000 stolen barrels of stolen oil. A representative stake for a Native American owner was an eighth, so lease owners were deprived of nearly a million dollars in just that year.

The committee’s findings triggered a grand-jury probe, dropped in March 1992, presumably because of Koch political ties to Bob Dole and other prominent Republicans, who were outraged by the congressional investigators.

Why would two of the world’s richest men steal oil from low-income Indian families? Charles Koch reportedly responded, “I want my fair share—and that’s all of it.”