Oil giant BP and three of its employees were indicted on criminal charges including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress on top of a record $4-billion fine that the company will pay the government for its role in the oil spill disaster that scarred the
Gulf of Mexico.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the indictments in a televised news conference from
where the grand jury has been investigating the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater
Horizon oil rig off the
coast. Eleven people died in the explosion. Louisiana
The announcement of the charges against BP employees came on the same day officials announced that BP had agreed to an unprecedented settlement involving a guilty plea to criminal charges.
In addition, BP agreed to pay more than $525 million in civil penalties to satisfy complaints by the Securities and Exchange Commission. That brings the total settlement cost to more than $4.5 billion – not including the billions the company has already paid to settle civil claims from residents, fishermen and businesses harmed by the spill.
In all, the company said it agreed to enter guilty pleas to 14 charges, including the eleven counts of manslaughter. But the government went further, charging individuals as well.
Two BP employees, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, who were described by Holder as the two highest-ranking BP supervisors on board the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded, were charged with manslaughter and other counts.