Halliburton's former manager charged with destroying evidence after 2010 oil spill
Former Halliburton manager Anthony Badalamenti was charged with destroying evidence about the 2010 BP oil spill, which became the largest offshore oil spill in US history. The company has already pleaded guilty to destroying evidence about its role in the spill.
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Unlike BP and rig owner Transocean Ltd., Halliburton was not charged with a crime related to the causes of the disaster. The fine Halliburton agreed to pay is the statutory maximum for the misdemeanor charge of unauthorized destruction of evidence.Skip to next paragraph
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The deal announced in July also calls for Halliburton to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.
The company said in a statement that closing the case was a good move for the company and that prosecutors have described its cooperation in the case as "exceptional," as well as "forthright, extensive and ongoing since the outset of the investigation."
Marc Mukasey, a lawyer who represented Halliburton at Thursday's hearing, said the company wouldn't comment on the charge against Badalamenti.
Although Halliburton's plea deal resolves the criminal case, the company still faces hefty civil penalties for its role in the disaster.
A federal judge is presiding over a trial designed to identify the causes of BP's well blowout and assign percentages of fault to BP and its contractors. The second phase of the trial — focusing on BP's efforts to plug the well and determining how much oil spilled into the Gulf — is scheduled to start on Sept. 30.
BP resolved a Justice Department criminal probe of its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster when it pleaded guilty in January to manslaughter charges for the deaths of the rig workers and agreed to pay a record $4 billion in penalties. Transocean pleaded guilty in February to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $400 million in criminal penalties.
Prosecutors said that in May 2010, Badalamenti directed a senior program manager to run computer simulations on centralizers, which are used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore. The results indicated there was little difference between using six or 21 centralizers. The data could have supported BP's decision to use the lower number.
Badalamenti is accused of instructing the program manager to delete the results. The program manager "felt uncomfortable" about the instruction but complied, according to prosecutors.
A different Halliburton employee also deleted data from a separate round of simulations at the direction of Badalamenti, who was acting without the authorization of the company, prosecutors said.
Halliburton notified investigators from a Justice Department task force about the deletion of data. Efforts to recover the data weren't successful.