BP Hit With $4.5B in Fines, Criminal Charges Over Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Thursday, 15 Nov 2012 02:10 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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The British oil giant BP was slapped with approximately $4.5 billion in fines and criminal charges for its involvement in the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the company announced Thursday.

BP reached a settlement with the U.S. government and will plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect stemming from the deaths of 11 workers, one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Act and one felony count of obstruction of Congress, NBC News reported.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to reveal more details about the case at a press conference Thursday in New Orleans.

The announcement comes in the wake of day-long media speculation about the details of the settlement. A source familiar with the case previously told the Associated Press that at least two staff members would face manslaughter charges for the deaths of the 11 people who were killed in the blowout. The BBC reported that up to four employees could face arrest.

The $4.5 billion fine comes on top of $20 billion BP has agreed to pay into a trust fund to meet damages claims from the spill, CNNMoney reported. The company said it expects to pay a final $860 million into that fund this quarter. The $4.5 billion would dwarf the largest U.S. criminal fine to date — drug maker Pfizer paid out $1.3 billion in 2009 as part of a $2.3 billion settlement in a case involving the misbranding of Bextra, an anti-inflammatory arthritis drug, according to CNNMoney.

The BP disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, caused a fire and explosion that killed 11 people.

The spill continued for 87 days, spewing an estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil, which disrupted tourism and commercial fishing along areas of the southern U.S. coast.

In September of last year, according to USA Today, a team of Coast Guard officials and federal regulators found that BP ignored warnings and made bad decisions that led to the spill. The team concluded that BP bears ultimate responsibility.

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