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Oil Spill

BP Said to Be Near Federal Plea Deal with Record Criminal Penalty

Posted Nov 15, 2012 7:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly set to announce a plea deal with BP that will include a record criminal penalty for its actions in the Gulf oil spill.

A source tells Reuters the penalty will top the record amount of $1.3 billion paid in 2009 by Pfizer Inc. for marketing fraud in connection with its Bextra pain medicine. The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and Reuters both say an announcement could be made as soon as this afternoon.

For its part, BP confirmed “advanced discussions” regarding a deal to resolve federal criminal allegations and claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the New York Times. No final agreement has been reached, the company said. When and if there is a resolution, it will be subject to federal court approval.

The agreement would not cover other claims, including federal civil claims under the Clean Water Act. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Clean Water Act provides for a maximum penalty of $5.4 billion, unless there is gross negligence. In that case, the maximum is $21 billion.

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