The Justice Department’s criminal probe of BP’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill has come to an end. U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance agreed to let the London-based oil giant plead guilty to manslaughter charges for the deaths of 11 rig workers to and pay a record $4 billion in penalties. The plea deal approved by Judge Vance doesn’t resolve the federal government’s civil claims against BP. The company will have to pay billions more for environmental damage from its 2010 spill. The settlement of the criminal charges has no “legal effect” on the civil matter.
The criminal settlement calls for BP to pay nearly $1.3 billion in fines. The largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Justice Department was a $1.2 billion fine against drug maker Pfizer in 2009. The plea deal also includes payments of nearly $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. The two groups will administer the money to fund Gulf restoration and oil spill prevention projects.
Interestingly, the $4 billion in total penalties is 160 times greater than the $25 million fine that Exxon paid for the 1989 Valdez spill in Alaska. But the damage in the Gulf are much greater than those in the Alaska spill. The April 20, 2010, blowout was the result of a combination of rush-to-production, time-saving, cost-cutting decisions by BP and its partners on the drilling project. The corporate wrongful conduct is as bad as anything I have ever seen.
Source: Associated Press
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