Out of deep water Andrew Mizner – 10 June, 2015 Print Email Tweet BP executive is cleared of lying…

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Out of deep water Andrew Mizner – 10 June, 2015 Print Email Tweet BP executive is cleared of lying to Congress about Deepwater Horizon disaster. David Rainey, the highest-ranking BP executive to face charges stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, has been acquitted of lying to a congressional subcommittee and obstruction of congress, at a trial in New Orleans. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on 20 April 2010, causing 11 deaths and an 87-day oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico. Rainey, formerly head of exploration for BP in the Gulf of Mexico, was charged in 2012 with lying about the rate at which oil was pouring into the gulf from the well, to a congressional subcommittee investigating the disaster. The charge of obstructing Congress was dismissed by a federal judge in New Orleans in May 2013, but was reinstated on appeal and went


to trial on 1 June at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The obstruction of Congress charge was thrown out on day one of the trial by US District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt after three members of Congress and six staff refused to testify on constitutional grounds. Rainey was acquitted of the remaining charge on 5 June, when a jury found him not guilty of making false statements to FBI investigators. The verdict was a victory for Steptoe & Johnson.

The Washington-headquartered firm’s white collar criminal defence partners Brian Heberlig and Reid Weingarten led Rainey’s defence and said in a statement: “Dave Rainey is an innocent man who was wrongly accused. The system got it right today.” Weingarten and Heberlig were joined in the defence team by of counsel Bob Ayers, David Fragale and Bruce Bishop. Other BP employees are still facing charges of manslaughter over the 11 deaths, while a former Halliburton manager previously received one year’s probation for destroying evidence. There was a surge in legal activity following the incident. BP previously agreed to pay a record USD 4 billion settlement, consisting of fines and other payments, and is paying up to USD 9 billion to settle lawsuits filed by claimants affected by the oil spill, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately rejected an attempt by the British company to limit dubious claims relating to the disaster, despite at one stage being awarded an injunction to that effect. In July 2013 Houston-headquartered Halliburton, a contractor on the oil well, pled guilty to destroying evidence relating to the disaster and paid a USD 200,000 fine, after setting aside USD 637 million for Deepwater Horizon-related lawsuits. In January 2013, Swiss-headquartered drilling contractor Transocean agreed to plead guilty to breaching the Clean Water Act in and pay USD 1.4 billion in penalties.

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