5/12/10 Federal investigators are likely to file criminal charges against at least one of the companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico spill, raising the prospects of significantly higher penalties than a current $75 million cap on civil liability, legal experts say.
In testimony on the Hill this week, all three companies involved in the spill — BP, Halliburton, and Transocean — denied culpability for the spill and have instead blamed each other.
One of the numerous factors in determining whether to file criminal charges is the adequacy of civil damages, which would provide an additional reason for prosecutors to pursue a criminal case in connection with the Gulf spill, experts said.
Prosecutors also look at the history of violations, which could also persuade them to file charges. BP, for example, has already agreed to pay millions in criminal penalties for several major incidents, including for a fatal explosion at a Texas refinery in March 2005.