BP agrees to $4.5 billion settlement of criminal charges in Gulf spill

Workers clean up a beach in Florida after the BP oil spill. Workers clean up a beach in Florida after the BP oil spill. Michael Spooneybarger/AP file photo

This story has been updated with details of the agreement. 

In a plea agreement with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, British oil giant BP will pay $4 billion in penalties, including $1.256 billion in criminal fines, over five years, plus $525 million in claims to the SEC over three years, the company announced on Thursday.

As part of the agreement, BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts related to the deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon that exploded while a BP well was being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. The company also will plead guilty to a felony charge of obstruction of Congress, a misdemeanor charge of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act.

The bulk of the penalties—$2.4 billion—will go to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation for restoration work in the Gulf of Mexico. Another $350 will go to the National Academy of Sciences for research on the effects of the spill, which dumped nearly 5 billion barrels of oil into the Gulf over 87 days.

The settlement, if accepted by a federal judge, does not end the litigation over the Gulf spill. BP and its partners in the deepwater drilling accident still face civil charges by the Justice Department.

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