Report: Criminal charges mulled in BP rig blast

The Justice Department is considering filing the first criminal charges in its probe of the Gulf oil spill, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The charges could be brought against employees of British oil giant BP, including U.S.-based engineers, with the investigation focusing on whether they provided false information to regulators regarding the risks at the Gulf well, according to the Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.

Gulf oil spill: Complete coverage

An explosion on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig in 2010 killed 11 workers and led to a massive oil spill of more than 4 billion barrels. It was the worst offshore oil spill ever in the U.S., prompting BP to set up a $20 billion compensation fund for those affected by the disaster.

The charges, which could be brought early next year, carry penalties of a fine and up to five years in prison, according to the report. The Justice Department has still not made a final decision on whether to go forward with the charges.

Read the full Wall Street Journal report. ($)

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