BP to plead guilty to felonies, will pay record $4.5 billion fine for 2010 oil spill

By Daniel S Levine,

BP announced Thursday that it has agreed to plead guilty to several felony counts stemming from the deaths of 11 workers at the Deepwater Horizon rig. It will pay a record fine for the 2010 oil spill, the largest offshore oil spill in US history.

The company said it will pay $4.5 billion in a settlement with the US government. That includes a record $1.3 billion in criminal fines, reports CBS News. A source also told CBS News that two BP employees will face manslaughter charges in connection with the workers’ deaths.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the felonies include 11 felony counts of “misconduct or neglect of ships officers” that lead to their deaths in the explosion and one felony count of obstruction of Congress by lying about the rate of oil leaking from the well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Other charges BP will plead guilty to include misdemeanor counts under the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Funds from the settlement will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which will receive $2.4 billion, and the National Academy of Sciences, which will get $350 million. About $500 million will go to the Securities and Exchange Committee.

“We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders," said Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP's Chairman, in a statement. “It removes two significant legal risks and allows us to vigorously defend the company against the remaining civil claims.”

The Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010 and the well spewed 206 million gallons of crude oil, which killed wildlife and affected millions along the gulf coast. The well was not capped until July 15, 2010 after several failed attempts.

The London-based company’s image was tarnished and the company said it agreed to settlements with individuals that totaled up to $7.8 billion. It also spent $14 billion to help clean up the region.

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