BP Settles All Criminal Claims

BP will pay $4 billion over five years to resolve all of the federal criminal charges in relation to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.  Additionally, they have also agreed to pay $525 million over three years to resolve the claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  BP announced the decision on November 15th.  It is still subject to court approval.

The agreement also includes BP pleading guilty to 11 felony counts of Misconduct or Neglect of Ships Officers, one misdemeanor count under the Clean Air Act, one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.  This last charge is tied to testimony about the amount of oil leaking per day during the time after the explosion and before the wellhead was capped.  The April 2010 explosion resulted in the deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon.

“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident, as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf Coast region,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s group chief executive. “From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims, and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident and, as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”

This agreement only covers criminal charges and does not resolve any civil claims.  The official announcement from BP stated that the company “is prepared to vigorously defend itself against remaining civil claims.”

Of the total payment, $2.394 billion of it must be paid to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and $350 million of it must be paid to the National Academy of Sciences.

The announcement went on to say that “Under U.S. law, companies convicted of certain criminal acts can be debarred from contracting with the federal government. BP has not been advised of the intention of any federal agency to suspend or debar the company in connection with this plea agreement. BP will continue to work cooperatively with the debarment authority”.

However, on November 28th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that they will temporarily suspend BP and all its named affiliated companies from new contracts with the federal government.  The announcement stated that the decision was due to “BP’s lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company’s conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response, as reflected by the filing of a criminal information”.  The EPA also stated that the suspension will remain until “the company can provide sufficient evidence to EPA demonstrating that it meets Federal business standards”.

The official press release from BP can be read here.

The announcement from the EPA concerning the temporary suspension of contracts can be read here.

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