The Justice Department sent its top leadership to New Orleans Thursday to announce the landmark settlement with BP over the 2010 oil spill off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Attorney General Eric Holder was joined by Tony West, Acting Associate Attorney General; Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division; and John Buretta, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. Robert Khuzami, the Securities and Exchange Commission director of enforcement, also spoke at the news conference.
Breuer, who has had a busy week with the release of new guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, rescheduled his keynote speech at an FCPA conference so he could attend the news conference.
The show of force from top U.S. officials coincided with BP agreeing to pay the largest criminal fine in history, $4 billion. The department also announced criminal charges against three BP officials, with two facing allegations of felony manslaughter and one with obstruction of Congress.
“Make no mistake: While the company is guilty, individuals committed these crimes,” Breuer said at the news conference.
The explosion onboard the oil rig Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and allowed millions of barrels of oil to flow freely into the Gulf for three months. It has been called one of the worst environmental disasters the United States has ever faced.
“There can be no question that this historic announcement represents a critical step forward,” Holder said. “But our work is far from over.”