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BP PLC To Pay $4.5 Billion, Plead Guilty To Criminal Charges For Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

NEW ORLEANS - (Mealey's) BP PLC announced Nov. 15 that it would plead guilty to a dozen felony charges brought by the federal government and pay $4.5 billion in penalties over its involvement in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

 Offshore Oil Drilling Rig Explosion

The company said it would plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct and one felony count of obstruction of Congress as well as one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act and one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Of the $4.5 billion penalty, the company said $525 million would resolve claims brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over oil flow estimates BP presented to the commission within the first 14 days of the incident in 2010. The amount will be paid incrementally over the course of five years, BP explained.

Claims Remain

The penalty will not resolve any of the federal government's claims under the Clean Water Act, federal and state law claims on natural resource damages and civil claims pending in the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, BP explained. The company said that it is prepared to vigorously defend itself against the remaining civil claims.

In February, the company announced that it had agreed to spend $7.8 billion to resolve economic loss and medical monitoring claims stemming from the oil spill. Final approval of the settlement is currently pending before Judge Carl Barbier, who presided over a fairness hearing Nov. 8.

The present agreement is subject to final approval.

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