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Pictures | Fri Nov 16, 2012 | 4:09am EST

BP agrees to record criminal penalties for U.S. oil spill

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout
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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a news conference in New Orleans November 15, 2012. The U.S. government negotiated with BP Plc to resolve civil claims against the company related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but did not reach any agreement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday. Holder, at a press conference on BP's criminal settlement, said it was possible the civil claims could still be resolved out of court but said the government was preparing for trial next year. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a news conference in New Orleans November 15, 2012. The U.S. government negotiated with BP Plc to resolve civil claims against the company related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but did not...more

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a news conference in New Orleans November 15, 2012. The U.S. government negotiated with BP Plc to resolve civil claims against the company related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but did not reach any agreement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday. Holder, at a press conference on BP's criminal settlement, said it was possible the civil claims could still be resolved out of court but said the government was preparing for trial next year. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, the largest such levy in U.S. history, the oil company said on Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the deal a "critical step forward" but was adamant that it did not end the government's criminal investigation of the spill. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc...more

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, the largest such levy in U.S. history, the oil company said on Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the deal a "critical step forward" but was adamant that it did not end the government's criminal investigation of the spill. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer speaks at a news conference in New Orleans November 15, 2012. The U.S. government negotiated with BP Plc to resolve civil claims against the company related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but did not reach any agreement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday. Holder, at a press conference on BP's criminal settlement, said it was possible the civil claims could still be resolved out of court but said the government was preparing for trial next year. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer speaks at a news conference in New Orleans November 15, 2012. The U.S. government negotiated with BP Plc to resolve civil claims against the company related to the Deepwater Horizon...more

Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer speaks at a news conference in New Orleans November 15, 2012. The U.S. government negotiated with BP Plc to resolve civil claims against the company related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but did not reach any agreement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday. Holder, at a press conference on BP's criminal settlement, said it was possible the civil claims could still be resolved out of court but said the government was preparing for trial next year. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, the largest such levy in U.S. history, the oil company said on Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the deal a "critical step forward" but was adamant that it did not end the government's criminal investigation of the spill. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc...more

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, the largest such levy in U.S. history, the oil company said on Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the deal a "critical step forward" but was adamant that it did not end the government's criminal investigation of the spill. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, the largest such levy in U.S. history, the oil company said on Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the deal a "critical step forward" but was adamant that it did not end the government's criminal investigation of the spill. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc...more

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at a news conference to announce new criminal charges and a settlement in the case against British oil company BP Plc for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in New Orleans November 15, 2012. BP Plc will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, the largest such levy in U.S. history, the oil company said on Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the deal a "critical step forward" but was adamant that it did not end the government's criminal investigation of the spill. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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