Halliburton pleads guilty to destruction of Gulf spill evidence
NEW ORLEANS, Sept 19
NEW ORLEANS, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Halliburton Co formally pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court on Thursday to charges it destroyed evidence in connection with its role in the BP oil disaster that claimed 11 lives and covered the coast line with an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo accepted the guilty plea Halliburton legal counsel Marc Mukasey entered, and imposed the agreed-upon statutory maximum fine of $200,000 and placed the company on a three-year probation.
Mukasey did not make a statement on the company's behalf.
The plea deal was first announced by the company and the U.S. Department of Justice on July 25.
At the time, the government said Halliburton's guilty plea was the third by a company in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill that reportedly sent oil gushing into the Gulf for 87 days at an average of 53,000 barrels per day.
In its plea, Halliburton admitted to the misdemeanor charge of "intentionally causing damage without authorization to a protected computer."
The agreement "also serves to deter and prevent future misconduct and protects the public from future offense" by Halliburton and others, the government said in a court filing.
In May or June 2010, Halliburton's cementing technology director ordered the deletion of computer-generated 3D models related to the well despite having been directed by a company executive to preserve material related to the well, the judge said.
During a trial over the cause of the well explosion, both the government and BP complained that faulty cement work by Halliburton contributed to the disaster.
BP also complained that Halliburton had destroyed computer evidence that would have shown the company's errors.
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