Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit on fire 2010
"This is unprecedented, both with regard to the amounts of money, the fact that a company has been criminally charged and that individuals have been charged as well," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said.
While the settlement dispels one dark cloud that has hovered over BP since the spill, it does not resolve what is potentially the largest penalty related to the incident: the company could owe as much as $21 billion in pollution fines under the Clean Water Act if it is found to have been grossly negligent.
Under its deal with the Justice Department, BP will pay about $4 billion in penalties over five years. That amount includes $1.256 billion in criminal fines, $2.394 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for remediation efforts and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. The criminal fine is one of the largest levied by the United States against a corporation.
BP also agreed to pay $525 million to settle civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it misled investors about the flow rate of oil from the well.