AP News

Judge approves $525M oil spill securities deal

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has approved a $525 million settlement between BP PLC and the Securities and Exchange Commission over statements the company made during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In documents signed Monday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans approved the deal, which was tied to BP claims about the volume of oil spewing from its busted Macondo well.

The settlement was announced in November along with a separate but related deal to resolve criminal charges stemming from the April 2010 explosion of the rig Deepwater Horizon off the Louisiana coast. The blast killed 11 rig workers and set in motion the nation's worst offshore oil disaster.

The SEC had accused BP of misleading investors by lowballing the amount of crude that was spilling from the well in an attempt to influence the attractiveness of its stock.

The larger criminal settlement is under consideration by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance, who has set a hearing for Jan. 29.

The settlement includes BP's agreement to pay $4.5 billion, including the largest fine in U.S. corporate history, and to plead guilty to lying to Congress and charges involving the worker deaths.

Four current or former BP employees also have been charged as individuals in the case.

The Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd., was drilling about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast on the night of April 20, 2010, when a blow-out of the well a mile under the Gulf surface caused an explosion and fire. The rig sank less than 2 days later.

More than 200 million gallons of oil flowed from the well, soiling marshes and fishing grounds, before a cap was placed over the well several months later.

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