BP Execs in Slammer? Unlikely

Expect a big fine, possible restrictions on future drilling
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2010 9:50 AM CDT
Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant AG Ignacia Moreno, Assistant AG Tony West and US Attorney Don Burkhalter announce a criminal investigation into the BP oil spill in New Orleans, June 1, 2010.   (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

(Newser) – So if the government gets as tough on BP as President Obama promised yesterday, does that mean oil company execs will be wearing stripes? Experts on environmental law doubt it. A criminal investigation or prosecution is far more likely to end in a massive fine for the company. “It’s highly unlikely that senior managers of the company were sufficiently personally involved in this to be charged,” a Justice Department vet said.

Even if execs don't end up in the slammer, the oil giant's poor past record—even before the Gulf spill, the EPA was considering barring BP from federal contracts for a slew of recent environmental violations—will likely play a role in the punishment meted out. The company could be barred from selling oil products to the government, from future drilling leases, or even from retaining its current leases—a scenario that would be "like the death penalty" for BP's business in the US, an environmental lawyer tells Politico.

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