BP to pay $4.5 billion in penalties for US oil spill

British oil giant BP said Thursday that it will pay $4.5 billion in a record settlement with the US government over the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and will plead guilty to felony counts related to the deaths of 11 workers and lying to the US Congress.

The settlement includes nearly $1.3 billion in criminal fines — the largest such penalty ever in the US — along with payments to several government entities.

A person familiar with the settlement said two BP employees will face manslaughter charges over the deaths of 11 people in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the massive spill.

"We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders,'' said Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP's chairman. "It removes two significant legal risks and allows us to vigorously defend the company against the remaining civil claims.''

London-based BP PLC said in a statement that the settlement would not include civil claims under the Clean Water Act and other legislation, pending private civil claims and state claims for economic loss. Nor does it cover billions of dollars in claims brought by states, businesses and individuals, including fishermen, restaurants and property owners. A federal judge in New Orleans is weighing a separate, proposed $7.8 billion settlement between BP and more than 100,000 businesses and individuals who say they were harmed by the spill. Until now, the only person charged in the disaster was a former BP engineer who was arrested in April on obstruction of justice charges.

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