Deepwater Horizon case blow for BP
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said the oil giant displayed a "culture of corporate recklessness", according to a memo filed with a New Orleans court, in the clearest sign yet that it will push for the maximum possible penalties following the spill in 2010.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
If the DoJ can establish gross negligence, it could mean up to 21 billion US dollars (£13.2 billion) in costs although there could also be further compensation to come.
BP's (LSE: BP) shares fell 4 per cent, wiping more than £3 billion from its market value.
Government lawyers said in the memo seen by the Financial Times: "The behaviour, words and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall. Yet they were condoned in a corporation engaged in an activity that no less a witness than former BP chief executive Tony Hayward himself described as comparable to exploring outer space."
The memo from the DoJ was in response to BP's settlement to compensate fishermen and other small claimants - known as the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) - to the tune of 7.8 billion US dollars (£4.9 billion).
A spokesman for BP said: "In its filing, the US government made clear that it does not oppose the settlement reached by BP and the PSC resolving economic loss and property damage claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
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