“U.S. prosecutors are preparing what would be the first criminal charges against BP PLC employees stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, which killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history,” The Wall Street Journal reports this morning, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
According to the Journal, the prosecutors are focusing on evidence that some BP engineers and supervisors may have given regulators false information about the risks associated with the drilling.
The Journal (longer excerpt posted here, by Fox News; both news outlets are owned by News Corp.) says that “a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.” That version of the Journal report also notes that “Justice still could decide not to bring charges against the individuals, people familiar with the situation said. It’s not unusual for prosecutors to use the threat of charges to pressure people to cooperate in investigations.”
Bloomberg Businessweek says that “Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP in Chicago, and David Nicholas, a London-based spokesman for the company, declined to comment on the report.” It adds that:
“BP faces at least 350 lawsuits by thousands of coastal property owners and businesses claiming damages from the more than 4.1 million barrels of oil that gushed from its well off the Louisiana coast.”
As we’ve reported, all the companies involved in the spill have been trading accusations about which was most responsible.