Posted: Nov 15, 2012 4:06 PM
Updated: Nov 15, 2012 4:06 PM
Source: Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS - Lawyers for two BP oil rig workers say the Justice Department is trying to make scapegoats out of them.
The two were indicted today on federal charges including manslaughter, in the deaths of 11 workers in the rig explosion that led to the Gulf oil spill two and a half years ago.
Another man, a BP official, is charged with obstruction of Congress, for allegedly withholding information on how much oil was spewing from the blown-out well.
BP, meanwhile, has agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion in a settlement with the government. It includes nearly $1.3 billion in fines, the biggest criminal penalty in U.S. history. And Attorney General Eric Holder says much of the money will be used to restore the Gulf.
The settlement may not make much of a dent on the company's finances. BP made a record $25.8 billion in profits last year. And it will be given five years to pay.
The environmental group Greenpeace is criticizing the settlement as a slap on the wrist.
But the company still faces huge additional claims -- including billions of dollars in civil penalties the government is seeking under the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. And a judge in New Orleans is considering a separate proposed settlement of $7.8 billion between BP and more than 100,000 businesses and individuals who say they were harmed by the spill.