News Column

Federal Judge Approves $525-million BP Settlement

Dec. 14, 2012

A U.S. federal judge has approved British oil giant BP's $525-million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for low-balling the amount of oil spilled during its 2010 Gulf of Mexico explosion, a newspaper reported Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans approved the settlement this week, asking BP to pay the fine in three payments within 20 months, according to the website of the Houston Chronicle.

The SEC charges alleged that BP misstated the range of possible rates at which oil was flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, data that could inform investors' decisions about buying or selling BP stocks.

The judgment in the SEC charges is separate from BP's proposed settlement of criminal charges related to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and resulting oil spill, according to the Houston Chronicle.

BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress, and pay a 4-billion-U.S. dollar criminal penalty to solve federal criminal charges by the U. S. Justice Department. Four individuals also face criminal charges stemming from the BP spill. The 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico triggered an explosion that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Last month, BP reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to resolve all federal criminal charges and all claims by the SEC against the company stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, the subsequent oil spill and the response.

The BP penalty is setting a record as the largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the U.S. Department of Justice was the $1.2 billion fine imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009.

Source: Copyright Xinhua News Agency - CEIS 2012

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