BP agrees to record criminal penalties for US oil spill

Nov 16 2012, 18:39 IST
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SummaryBP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever.

oil companies by value.

'CRIMINAL SCALP'

With these unprecedented criminal penalties assessed, I urge the Obama administration to be equally aggressive in securing civil monies that can help save our Louisiana coast through other avenues, Louisiana Senator David Vitter said in a statement. I certainly hope they didn't trade any of those monies away just to nail this criminal scalp to the wall.

Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, called the settlement a good down payment on what BP should ultimately pay, which the environmental group argues is tens of billions of dollars more.

BP said the payments would be spread over six years, and that it expected to be able to handle the payments within BP's current financial framework.

The company has sold $35 billion worth of assets to fund the costs of the spill. Matching that, it has paid $23 billion already in clean-up costs and claims, and has a further $12 billion earmarked for payment in its spill trust fund.

The oil company said it has not been advised of any government authority that intends to debar BP from federal contracting activities as a result of the deal.

'RECKLESS MANAGEMENT'

The lawyers for Bob Kaluza, the BP well manager aboard the rig who faces manslaughter charges, condemned the case against the four-decade oilfield veteran.

Bob was not an executive or high-level BP official. He was a dedicated rig worker who mourns his fallen co-workers every day, Shaun Clarke and David Gerger said in a statement.

Kaluza faces two kinds of charges related to the workers' deaths: Involuntary manslaughter, a broad statute covering individuals whose reckless disregard leads directly to loss of life; and seaman's manslaughter, reserved for those employed on ships whose misconduct results in death.

No one should take any satisfaction in this indictment of an innocent man. This is not justice, Kaluza's lawyers said.

As for BP, its settlement does not resolve civil litigation brought by the U.S. government and U.S. Gulf Coast states, which could be considered when the case convenes in February 2013.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who represents other spill-hit states in the case, said he intends to prove that BP's actions were grossly negligent - a charge that would bring billions of dollars in extra liability if upheld. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal agreed in a statement.

The majority of BP's liability remains outstanding and we will hold them

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