BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal counts, including manslaughter, and will pay $4 billion over five years in a settlement with the Justice Department over the April 20, 2010, drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, officials announced Thursday.
The fine is the largest criminal payment in U.S. history, Justice Department officials said, but BP still faces even bigger penalties from federal civil charges, including those under the Clean Water Act.
The Justice Department also sought to attach faces to the disaster, filing manslaughter charges against two BP rig supervisors and obstruction charges against a BP executive who allegedly lied to Congress. The three are not covered by the BP settlement.
“I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this wanton misconduct that there will be a penalty paid,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said during a news conference in New Orleans on Thursday.