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Halliburton Admits Guilt In BP Disaster

The U.S. Justice Department announced late Thursday Halliburton Co. has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton has agreed to pay $55 million dollars to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It’s not written into the plea agreement, which is subject to federal court approval. The company has also agreed to pay a maximum statutory fine of $500,000. Halliburton will accept three years of probation and cooperate in the government’s ongoing criminal investigation.

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The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion killed 11 men in April 2010, and resulted in a three-month discharge of million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.

BP has accused Halliburton employees of finding and destroying evidence of early test results that showed potential problems. They argued that some of the destroyed evidence would remove some burden of guilt from BP. Halliburton initially denied destroying any evidence.

A deal was finalized In February for Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and pay $400 million in criminal penalties.

A deal was finalized with BP one month prior to pay $4 billion in criminal fines while pleading guilty to manslaughter and other charges.

The ongoing civil trial in New Orleans enters its second phase in September. BP’s Clean Water Act penalties could range from $5 billion to nearly $18 billion.

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