BP yesterday agreed to add manslaughter in its case pertaining to the deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but shed a heavy burden off its shoulders and investors, as a US judge accepted a plea agreement.
The $4-billion fine, equivalent to the revenue BP took in every four days last year, was a sore point for victims who spoke during an emotional hearing in New Orleans. A BP lawyer at the hearing entered guilty pleas on the company's behalf to 14 charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress.
In addition to the fine, which BP would be able to pay over five years, the oil giant would be on probation for a five year period and would be subject to independent monitoring.
US district judge Sarah Vance said that while the company committed serious offenses and her sympathies were with the victims, she believed the plea deal and negotiated sentence were fair.
The guilty plea applies a closure to federal criminal investigation of BP in the deaths and the worst offshore oil spill in US history and marks the first criminal conviction resulting from the disaster, although other cases were pending.
The British energy giant also agreed to pay a $525-million fine to resolve related securities violations, a deal that had been previously approved.