|Criminal charges in oil spill explored
•Manslaughter, perjury possibilities, sources sayWASHINGTON — Manslaughter and perjury are among
possible charges that Justice Department investigators are exploring in
the early stages of their probe into the Gulf oil spill, people familiar
with the inquiry said Tuesday.
people said the Justice Department is not ruling out the possibility of
bringing manslaughter charges against companies or managers responsible
for the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed
department also is examining congressional testimony by company
executives, including former BP CEO Tony Hayward, to determine whether
their statements were untruthful, these people added.
cautioned that the investigation is still far from complete and spoke
on condition of anonymity about the ongoing investigation.
Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment.
this month, the Justice Department reorganized its oil spill
investigation. It created a unified task force so investigators from
Justice’s criminal and environmental divisions and from the U.S.
attorney’s office in New Orleans can coordinate overlapping work of
looking into civil violations and criminal culpability, if any.
Attorney General James Cole ordered the move to avoid duplication of
effort. Criminal division senior counsel John Buretta is leading the
task force, and criminal division chief Lanny Breuer is supervising it.
drilling rig explosion occurred on April 20, 2010. A month and a half
later, Attorney General Eric Holder announced criminal and civil
investigations of the disaster.
will closely examine the actions of those involved in the spill. If we
find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our
response," Holder said.
Bringing a manslaughter charge against a corporation is unusual but not unprecedented.Two
weeks after Holder announced the probe, Cole told Congress that
prosecuting individual executives is the best deterrent when there is
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