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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Will BP face criminal charges?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 12:30 PM

  • U.S. Coast Guard

The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fox News and NPR are all reporting U.S. prosecutors are preparing a criminal case against BP employees following the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the 2010 Gulf oil disaster.

The prosecutors, according to WSJ, are aiming for Houston-based engineers and at least one BP supervisor. Prosecutors are leaning on evidence that those BP employees may have given drilling regulators false information about the deepwater drilling risks.

Last year, the Guardian speculated "what if" the business end of Big Oil faced felony charges for its accidents. The question was prompted after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the administration's end of a temporary drilling moratorium, before any Oil Spill Commission reports or internal investigations revealed any of their findings — a free pass to Big Oil on their word that they'd addressed the problem. So, "what if?"

NPR's Carrie Johnson reported that the U.S. Department of Justice task force investigating the disaster, led by Brooklyn prosecutor John Buretta, is deciding whether to prosecute, and engineers already are lawyering up. (In September, DOJ officials announced the department was looking into whether BP properly reported pressure measurements during drilling.) In February, BP will enter trial anyway, to determine liability for the explosion that killed 11 men. Meanwhile, the company faces stacks of lawsuits for compensation not addressed by its claims process.

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