BP, the British oil giant, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 14 felony counts related to the 2010 explosion and subsequent oil spill at the site of its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The plea agreement with federal prosecutors includes 11 charges of manslaughter for the deaths of workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and one felony count for obstruction of justice for false statements made to Congress about the amount of oil leaking from the out-of-control well.Of course BP will kick, scream, and fight all civil claims, and G*d knows what else. This will not change the damage to the gulf, wildlife, or the livelihood lost by gulf water-men. That's done and cannot be undone. BP pleaded guilty, at last, and that's what's important.
The company will pay $4.5 billion to settle the charges, the largest corporate criminal penalty in U.S. history.
Three former BP employees also face separate felony charges related to the spill, the Justice Department announced. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, BP drilling managers who oversaw operations on the Deepwater Horizon rig, were charged with 22 counts of negligent manslaughter for the deaths of the 11 rig workers. David Rainey, a former BP vice president in charge of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with felony obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to Congress and federal law enforcement officials about the amount of oil leaking from the well.
Attorneys for all three men have vowed to fight the charges. Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig, attorneys for Rainey, slammed BP for acquiescing to the government's charges. "We are profoundly disappointed that the Department of Justice is attempting to turn a tragic accident and its tumultuous aftermath into criminal activity," the attorneys said in an emailed statement. "We are even more disappointed that BP has succumbed to the pressure and agreed to this extortionate settlement. Mr. Rainey did not commit the crimes charged in the indictment, period. We intend to vigorously defend him at trial and are confident he will be exonerated of these baseless charges."
BP's plea agreement, which still requires approval by a U.S. federal court, would free the company from further federal criminal charges and penalties, but it does not obviate a full complement of potential civil claims that could reach well into the tens of billions.
There is more HERE.
And so it goes.