The operator of the deep-water Horizon oil rig which blew up and sank in the Gulf of Mexico nearly three years ago has become the second company to plead guilty to criminal charges regarding the incident.
On Thursday Brad Brian, Transocean’s (NYSE: RIG) lawyer, stood up in the New Orelans federal court to address US District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo and deliver a plea of guilty with regards to a misdemeanour charge of violating the Clean Water Act.
Asked, “does the company wish to plead guilty because it is guilty?”
Brian replied, “yes, your honour.”
Stating that his clients had nothing further to add, and in the light of a now show from the representatives of three victims who were set to speak at the hearing, the Judge Milazzo ordered a brief recess to determine her verdict.
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On return from the recess Judge Milazzo approved the criminal settlement that Transocean had previously agreed with the Justice Department, quickly imposing a sentence of a five year probationary period, along with a $400 million penalty.
Two weeks ago BP pleaded guilty to the charges laid against them and were ordered to pay a $4 billion penalty on top of their five years on probation.
One of the reasons for the vast difference in the penalties awarded is due to the fact that Transocean did not face any charges in connection to the deaths of 11 workers who were killed on the rig.
Federal prosecutors also stated that Transocean’s actions only amounted to negligence, as they were operating under the instruction and supervision of BP, therefore rejecting the verdict and pushing for a larger penalty would be virtually useless.
Transocean now await the verdict of a separate court case to determine their guilt in relation to civil charges; they have already agreed to pay a $1 billion penalty.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com