BP confirmed it is close to agreeing a deal over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster with the US Department of Justice and is expected to plead guilty to criminal misconduct through a plea agreement, according to two sources familiar with discussions.
The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said BP would plead guilty in exchange for a waiver of future prosecution. BP said on Thursday: “No final agreements have yet been reached and any resolutions, if agreed, would be subject to federal court approvals in the US.” It stressed that until the final agreements had been made, it was not certain it would enter into any such resolutions. The justice department declined to comment.
The oil giant has been locked in months-long negotiations with the US government and Gulf Coast states to settle billions of dollars of potential civil and criminal liability claims resulting from the explosion on 20 April 2010 aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig.
The deal could resolve a significant share of the liability that BP faces after an explosion killed 11 workers and fouled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states in the worst offshore spill in US history. BP still faces economic and environmental damage claims sought by US Gulf Coast states and other private plaintiffs.
It is unclear to which form of criminal misconduct BP would plead guilty. In an August filing, the department of justice said “reckless management” of the Macondo well “constituted gross negligence and willful misconduct”, which it intended to prove at a pending civil trial set to begin in New Orleans in February 2013. The US government has not yet filed any criminal charges in the case.
It is also unclear whether the deal will resolve any civil charges brought by the justice department – and how large a financial penalty BP might pay to resolve the charges, or other punishments that BP might face. (SOURCE)
I won’t call this good news just yet because I’d like to see some personal liability brought to bear on the executives in charge of BP and the other corporations involved in the Deepwater Horizon incident. Jail time would be nice, loss of corporate charters would also be welcome (though I don’t expect to see either happen), and hefty fines in the hundreds of billions ought to be demanded by all who have a stake in the outcome.