By Allan Lengel
The Justice Department whacked BP Exploration and Production Inc.
The company agreed to plead guilty to felony manslaughter, environmental crimes and obstruction of Congress and pay a record $4.5 billion in criminal fines and penalties for its roll in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.
The 14-count information, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, charges BP with 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of Congress, and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.
“The $4 billion in penalties and fines is the single largest criminal resolution in the history of the United States and constitutes a major achievement toward fulfilling a promise that the Justice Department made nearly two years ago to respond to the consequences of this epic environmental disaster and seek justice on behalf of its victims,” said Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “We specifically structured this resolution to ensure that more than half of the proceeds directly benefit the Gulf Coast region so that residents can continue to recover and rebuild.”
“The oil spill was catastrophic for the environment, but by hiding its severity BP also harmed another constituency – its own shareholders and the investing public who are entitled to transparency, accuracy and completeness of company information, particularly in times of crisis,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Enforcement. “Good corporate citizenship and responsible crisis management means that a company can’t hide critical information simply because it fears the backlash.”
Additionally, Robert M. Kaluza, 62, of Henderson, Nev., and Donald J. Vidrine, 65, of Lafayette, La. – the highest-ranking BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 – were charged with allegedly engaging in negligent and grossly negligent conduct in a 23-count indictment charging violations of the federal involuntary manslaughter and seaman’s manslaughter statutes and the Clean Water Act.
David I. Rainey, 58, of Houston – a former BP executive who served as a Deputy Incident Commander and BP’s second-highest ranking representative at Unified Command during the spill response – is charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements to law enforcement officials.
Read Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.’s Statement