BP pleads guilty to criminal charges over Gulf oil spill

BP pleads guilty to criminal charges over Gulf oil spill

POSTED: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 11:44am

UPDATED: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 2:23pm

BP reached a settlement today with the federal government to pay $4.5 billion for the 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

This settlement is considered a record for a criminal penalty in the U.S. The largest previous corporate criminal penalty was imposed on Pfizer in 2009 by the Department of Justice. That settlement was reached at $1.2 billion.

The settlement is subject to federal judicial review. Attorney General Eric Holder will announce the details of the settlement on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 1:00 p.m. in New Orleans.

"All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region," said Bob Dudley, BP's CEO, in a statement. "From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf."

"We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today's resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions," Dudley added.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and set off a spill which continued for 87 days.

Family members of the victims who spoke to CNN Thursday said they were pleased that BP was being forced to pay for the blast, but said it doesn't make up for their loss.

"It doesn't bring my boy back, but it does show everybody that they're guilty and everybody knows it," said Billy Anderson, whose son Jason was one of the rig workers killed.

Arlene Weise lost her 24-year-old son Adam on the rig that day.

"I knew all along that BP was the devil in that accident," she said. "Now they're getting their due."

BP will have up to six years to pay the money it agreed to as part of Thursday's settlement. Most of that money -- $2.4 billion -- will go to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, an independent not-for-profit conservation group chartered by Congress in 1984. It is a windfall for the group, whose total contributions and commitments since its founding are just above $2 billion.

Another $350 million will go to the National Academy of Science.

-Portions of this article provided by CNN (Chris Isidore).

NBC33 is tracking this story. We will have more information at this link as soon as it is available. We will also have updates on the NBC33 Facebook page as well as on Twitter.

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