Oil Spill

BP Says It Will Pay $4.5B to Resolve Federal Criminal and Securities Allegations

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Workers try to collect oil-covered sand in Pensacola
Beach, Fla. Cheryl Casey / Shutterstock.com

Updated and corrected: BP has announced it will pay $4.5 billion to resolve federal criminal and securities allegations in connection with the Gulf oil spill.

The company will pay $4 billion over five years in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and $525 million over three years to resolve claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission, report the Washington Post, the Associated Press, CNN, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the New York Times.

As part of the plea deal, BP will plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including 11 felony counts related to loss of life in the oil spill and one felony count for obstruction of Congress. According to the Wall Street Journal, the settlement includes $1.26 billion in criminal fines, nearing the record of $1.3 billion paid in 2009 by Pfizer Inc. for marketing fraud in connection with its Bextra pain medicine.

The deal also calls for BP to pay $2.394 billion to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences, the Wall Street Journal says.

The Associated Press is citing an anonymous source who says two BP employees will also face manslaughter charges.

The plea agreement will not cover other claims, including federal civil claims under the Clean Water Act. According to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), 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.

Updated and corrected at 11:14 a.m. to reflect Wall Street Journal coverage on the amount of the criminal fine, which nears but does not surpass the record set in 2009.

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