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MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 17/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) he energy giant British Petroleum (BP) has agreed to plead guilty to felonies of "manslaughter, environmental crimes and obstruction of Congress" and pay a record USD four billion in criminal fines and penalties for its conduct leading to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, it was announced here Thursday.

The 14-count information, filed today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, charges BP with "11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of Congress, and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts." BP has signed a guilty plea agreement with the government, admitting to its criminal conduct.

As part of its guilty plea, BP has agreed, subject to the Court's approval, to pay USD four billion in criminal fines and penalties, which is considered the largest criminal resolution in United States history.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in this regard that the USD four billion in penalties and fines "is the single largest criminal resolution in the history of the United States and constitutes a major achievement toward fulfilling a promise that the Justice Department made nearly two years ago to respond to the consequences of this epic environmental disaster and seek justice on behalf of its victims." Holder affirmed "we specifically structured this resolution to ensure that more than half of the proceeds directly benefit the Gulf Coast region so that residents can continue to recover and rebuild.

" The Justice Department indicated in a statement that in addition to the resolution of charges against BP, Robert Kaluza, 62 and Donald Vidrine, 65, whom are considered "the highest-ranking BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010, are alleged to have engaged in negligent and grossly negligent conduct in a 23-count indictment charging violations of the federal involuntary manslaughter and seaman's manslaughter statutes and the Clean Water Act.

" Also, David Rainey, 58, a former BP executive who served as a Deputy Incident Commander and BP's second-highest ranking representative at Unified Command during the spill response is charged with "obstruction of Congress and making false statements to law enforcement officials

." The Department noted that Kaluza and Vidrine each are charged "with 11 felony counts of seaman's manslaughter, 11 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and one violation of the Clean Water Act." If convicted, Kaluza and Vidrine each face a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison on each seaman's manslaughter count, up to eight years in prison on each involuntary manslaughter count, and up to a year in prison on the Clean Water Act count.

Rainey is charged with "one count of obstruction of Congress, and one count of making false statements to law enforcement officials." If convicted, Rainey faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on each count.


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