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Written by
on 19 November 2012


The Department of Justice in the US has filed the largest criminal fine in the history of the US against BP over the disaster of Deepwater Horizon in April 2010. The Department of Justice also indicted two senior supervisors of the company on manslaughter charges.

A former executive with the BP has also faced charges for allegedly giving force information to law enforcement officers and also misleading the Congress.

The firm has pleaded guilty to fourteen criminal charges, including eleven counts of manslaughter following the explosion which claimed the lives eleven workers. Other charges were two breaches of environmental law, and one count for obstructing the Congress. As BP has already admitted to the charges, it has been required to pay four billion dollars in penalties and fines over the next five years. This is the single largest criminal ruling in the United States history. BP has also settled to pay Security and Exchange Commission 525 dollars over a three year period.

As part of their guilty plea, BP will retain an observer for four years. The monitor major tasks will be to oversee risk management, equipment maintenance and safety in relation to all deepwater drillings in the Gulf.  The monitoring will also include an independent auditor who will be tasked with conducting annual reviews so as to ensure that the company remains compliant with the regulations. The firm has also been instructed to hire an ethics monitor who will help it improve its code of behaviour.

In addition to these charges preferred against the firm, a twenty three count indictment charging the top two ranking supervisors of the BP onboard the oil fix with manslaughter and breach of Clean Water Act was returned by a federal grand jury.

Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General said that people should not make mistakes because even of the company was guilty; all these crimes were committed by individuals. The indictment charges against the two well site BP supervisors with gross negligence and negligence on the twilight of 20th April 2010. There were glaring red flags meant to indicate that the well wasn’t secure but allegedly, both men did not take the appropriate action to avoid the blowout.

A former BP executive, David Rainey, also faces separate indictment charges for giving force information to law enforcement officers and for obstructing a congressional investigation. Assistant Attorney General Breuer said that the indictment alleges that on behalf of the BP, Mr Rainey underestimated, intentionally, the quantity of oil flowing from Macondo oil well. Mr Rainey withheld some documents, picked some pages from documents, and lied to the Congress in an attempt to make the oil spill appear less catastrophic.

Bob Dudley, the chief executive of the BP group said in a statement that everyone at BP had deeply regretted the tragic deaths that were caused by the accident at Deepwater Horizon, as well as the blow of the oil spill on the Gulf region. He said that the company stepped up from the onset and responded to the spill, funded restoration efforts on the gulf and paid legitimate claim. He concluded by saying that the company was apologising for their role in the incident and they had accepted responsibility for their actions.

BP said that it had taken momentous steps to improve risk management and safety throughout its global operations.  The firm has also made notable changes in leadership and reorganised its upstream business.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.