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Halliburton Pleads Guilty

Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Destroying Evidence

Halliburton Pleads GuiltyHalliburton, BP’s cement contractor from the drilling rig that exploded in April 2010, has pled guilty to destroying evidence in connection to the Gulf Oil Spill.

This is the third company that has pled guilty to the conditions surrounding the oil spill. Halliburton is the world’s second-largest oil field services company, and will be required to pay a maximum $200,000 fine in relation to this misdemeanor. (Roughly four minutes worth of revenue for the company)

Halliburton voluntarily paid out $55 million dollars to the National Fish and Wildlife Fund to try and gain some clout with the public and clear their name. However, seeing that this is a non-profit organization, it will likely result in a tax write off for the company.

Following the rupture of the Macondo oil well, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig triggered the largest offshore oil spill in history and left 11 dead. The ripple effects of the spill destroyed and devastated the environment and the economy of the Gulf Coast.

The allegations in the case were that during the creation of the Macondo well, Halliburton recommended to BP that it contain 21 centralizers. Centralizers are metal collars that can improve cementing, thus making the well more secure. However, BP chose to use just 6 centralizers. After the blowout, the government probed into the cementing of the well and this is when Halliburton ordered computer simulations showing little difference in using 6 centralizers and 21 centralizers to be destroyed. Government efforts to later locate these simulations were unsuccessful.

The Department of Justice still may pursue criminal charges against individuals involved in destroying evidence, but a spokeswoman for the company does not believe that will be the case.

It is surprising the government would accept a plea for such a minor charge, given the oil spill was one of the worst in history. This ruling is in stark contrast to the Enron market manipulation a decade ago, where destruction of evidence led to multiple felonies including obstruction of justice.

Yet again, more evidence of the US government taking it easy on big corporations. Maybe not so surprising as former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney was responsible for obtaining multiple contracts for the company while holding federal government positions.  How can this ruling be impartial? It seems those who are a part of the law sure know how to get around it.

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