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BP to plead guilty to criminal charges and receive record US criminal fine

In what will be seen as a landmark case BP is likely to be fined between £1.9bn and £3.2bn for their criminal misconduct relating to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill disaster in April 2010. The fine will be a new record in the US, dwarfing the £819m that the drug company Pzifer was fined in 2009.

It is believed that BP has agreed this amount through a plea deal with the US Department of Justice. The fine will settle the US federal government criminal and Securities and Exchange Commission claims only. BP may still face further fines from the DoJ in relation to civil claims and also claims from the affected Gulf States and other private plaintiffs.

In August, the DoJ filed papers to the New Orleans federal court stating that BP’s management of the oil rig evidenced “gross negligence and wilful misconduct”. If this is proven in the 2013 civil trial in New Orleans, then BP could be looking at a payout in excess of £13bn.

BP has already begun shedding assets to cover the costs of all claims and has so far set aside around £24bn.

As was reported to the BBC back in June 2010, rig worker Tyrone Benton explained to his supervisor that a leak had been discovered weeks before the eventual explosion. Had BP rectified the problem at the time they would have had to cease drilling, resulting in millions of pounds of lost revenue. However, the decision not to repair that fault has not only resulted in the loss of billions of pounds, but also the company’s reputation and has left an indelible scar on the Gulf Coast waters and shoreline.

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