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BP to pay $4.5 billion in fines for Gulf oil spill. Is legal saga over?

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The 14 criminal counts against BP include: 

  • Eleven felony counts of misconduct and negligence related to the deaths.
  • One misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act.
  • One misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • One felony count of obstruction of Congress related to incorrect flow-rate estimates of oil given to members of US Congress in the first 14 days of the disaster.  

A separate indictment charges former senior BP executive David Rainey individually with obstructing a congressional investigation by making false statements regarding the flow rate from the wrecked well. The Justice Department also released a 23-count indictment involving manslaughter and Clean Water Act violation charges against Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, both on-site supervisors at the time of the disaster.

Of the $4.5 billion in fines against the company, $525 million goes to the Security and Exchange Commission for misreporting the flow-rate estimates, $1.3 billion relates to the deaths of the 11 oil-rig workers, and $2.7 billion goes to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and National Academy of Sciences for violations of environmental laws.  

The previous highest payout by a US company was in 2009 when pharmaceutical giant Pfizer pleaded guilty to misbranding its anti-inflammatory drug Bextra and was forced to pay $2.4 billion in penalties.  

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