BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $4.5 billion to the government for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The payment includes $4 billion related to criminal charges, including $1.2 billion in criminal fines, as well as half-a-billion dollars in payments to securities regulators. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday the settlement broke two records.
Eric Holder: BP has agreed to plead guilty to all 14 criminal charges, including responsibility for the deaths of 11 people and the events that led to an unprecedented environmental catastrophe. The company has also agreed to pay $4 billion in fines and in penalties. This marks both the largest single criminal fine, more than $1.25 billion, and the largest total criminal resolution, $4 billion dollars, in the history of the United States.”
Critics say even the record payments are merely a fraction of BP’s profits and will not be enough to deter future disasters. Public Citizen called the deal “pathetic” and “a slap on the wrist,” noting it would not prevent BP from continuing to receive lucrative government contracts and leases. Under the settlement, BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect in connection with the deaths of rig workers as well as a separate count for lying to Congress. Separately on Thursday, the government pursued charges against three BP employees for their role in the disaster. The top BP officers who were aboard the drill rig, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, were charged with manslaughter for their alleged negligence after, the government says, they became aware of multiple signs the well was unsafe. BP’s former vice president for exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, David Rainey, was charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements about how quickly oil was gushing from the well.