Updated 12:04 p.m.
BP PLC reached a settlement today with the Justice Department in which the company will pay $4.5 billion and plead guilty to criminal misconduct charges related to the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
According to a release from the company, BP will pay $4 billion to the Justice Department over the course of five years and $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission over the course of three years. The penalty far exceeds the $1.3 billion fine Pfizer forked over in 2009 for the false marketing of Bextra pain medication.
As part of the pending settlement, BP plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of ships officers. The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig killed 11 workers and pumped oil into the Gulf of Mexico for three months during the summer of 2010.
Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against former BP engineer Kurt Mix in August for allegedly destroying evidence, amounting to obstruction of justice. In the release, BP said that it will vigorously defend any remaining civil claims.
“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” Bob Dudley, BP’s group chief executive, said in a written statement. “From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”
Federal prosecutors will be holding a press conference about the settlement this afternoon in New Orleans.