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BP settles fraud, environmental crime lawsuits for over $370M

[JURIST] British Petroleum (BP) [corporate website] will pay approximately $373 million in fines and restitution to settle three separate claims [press release] against the corporation, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday. BP will pay just over $300 million in criminal penalties and restitution as part of an agreement [CFTC press release] to defer the prosecution of a civil lawsuit [JURIST report] filed by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) [official website] in June 2006 alleging that at least six current and former employees of BP North America violated the Commodity Exchange Act [text] by using BP's dominant market position to manipulate propane prices. In related news, a federal grand jury in Chicago Thursday indicted four former BP employees on mail and wire fraud charges, as well as violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, for conspiring to manipulate propane prices during the same time period.

In the first of two environmental settlements Thursday, BP agreed to pay $20 million to resolve an investigation [JURIST report] initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency into BP's alleged violation of the Clean Water Act [text] in response to the spill of an estimated 134,000 to 267,000 gallons of crude oil in Alaska in March 2006, the largest spill ever in Alaskan history [BBC report]. BP also said Thursday it would pay $50 million and plead guilty to a one-count felony violation of the Clean Air Act for alleged deficiencies at the company's Texas City refinery which resulted in an explosion that killed 15 people and injured hundreds more in 2005. BP issued a statement [press release] Thursday addressing the plea agreements and saying the company has made changes and "real progress" since the violations occurred. BP America Chairman and President Bob Malone also said:

These agreements are an admission that, in these instances, our operations failed to meet our own standards and the requirements of the law. For that, we apologize.
AP has more.

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