BP to Pay $4.5 Billion, Plead Guilty to 14 Criminal Charges for Gulf Oil Spill
By Elizabeth Murphy | November 15, 2012 1:06 pm

BP today agreed to pay a total of $4.5 billion in fines and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which has been described as one of the worst environmental disasters the United States has ever faced. Three individuals from BP have also been criminally charged.

The British oil company will pay $4 billion, the largest criminal penalty ever, over a five-year period, much of that to U.S. environmental agencies, in addition to $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission over a three-year period, according to a statement by BP. Millions of barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico for three months in 2010 after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Eleven BP workers were killed.

“There can be no question that this historic announcement represents a critical step forward,” Holder said according to prepared remarks. “But our work is far from over.”

The department also announced that Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, on-board supervisors of Deepwater Horizon, are charged with failing to oversee safety tests for the drilling rig. The two allegedly did not alert onshore engineers of issues with the rig, despite red flags that the well was not safe. Kaluza and Vidrine are charged with manslaughter and violating the Clean Water Act.

“Make no mistake:  While the company is guilty, individuals committed these crimes,” Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer said, according to prepared remarks. “In the face of glaring red flags indicating that the well was not secure, both men allegedly failed to take appropriate action to prevent the blowout.

Oil spill workers clean the beach of Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL as oil washes ashore from the BP spill on June 10, 2010 in Pensacola, Florida. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Former senior BP executive David Rainey was also charged in a separate indictment, the department announced. He is charged with obstructing a congressional investigation and making false statements to the authorities, the department said.

“Rainey allegedly cherry-picked pages from documents, withheld other documents altogether and lied to Congress and others in order to make the spill appear less catastrophic than it was,” Breuer said.

BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of manslaughter in connection with the death of the workers. It also will plead guilty to one felony count of obstruction of Congress, and misdemeanor counts of violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the BP statement revealed Thursday.

BP will pay a portion of the criminal fine to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and to the National Academy of Sciences. BP also must appoint two independent monitors, to serve for four years, to oversee its safety and risk-management procedures.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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