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Thursday, November 1, 2007

BP Stands for Big Payout!

BP America Inc. has agreed to pay more than $370 million in fines and restitution relating to three criminal matters involving environmental crimes and fraud.

As part of the agreement, BP will pay the largest fine ever imposed against a single entity for violating the Clean Air Act, $50 million.

The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and numerous other federal and state agencies held a news conference Oct. 25 to unveil the charges and plea agreements.

First, the Justice Department will file a plea agreement resolving charges stemming from a catastrophic explosion at the company´s Texas City Refinery in March 2005. The blast killed 15 workers and injured more than 170. The company agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act and pay a criminal fine of $50 million.

In the second incident, BP Exploration Alaska Inc. agreed to plead guilty to violating a portion of the Clean Water Act stemming from a 2006 incident in which BP pipelines corroded and leaked more than 200,000 gallons of oil into the Alaska wilderness. As part of the plea agreement, BP will pay a $12 million fine to the EPA and give $4 million each to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the State of Alaska. BP ignored "many red flags and warning signs" that should have tipped off the company that its pipelines were badly corroded and that leaks were imminent, acting Attorney General Peter Keisler said.

The third criminal case against BP was filed in a federal court in Chicago and involves allegations the company conspired to violate the Commodity Exchange Act, and to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Justice officials and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said four BP employees schemed to manipulate the price of propane. The company agreed to pay a $100 million criminal penalty, a $125 million civil penalty, $53 million in restitution, and $25 million to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Consumer Fraud Fund.

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