Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Shredding Evidence

This week in entirely unsurprising news: Halliburton destroyed evidence of their own culpability after the BP oil spill. They’ve now agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for it and to pay a whopping $200,000 fine, which I assume will merely come out of petty cash.

The US Department of Justice said that prior to the blowout at the rig, Halliburton had recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralisers – metal collars that can improve cementing.

However, BP chose to use only six.

The justice department said that Halliburton had run two computer simulations of the Macondo well’s final cementing job to compare the impact of using six versus 21 centralisers.

It said the results of these simulations indicated that there was little difference.

The department said that Halliburton’s programme manager “was directed to, and did, destroy these results”.

“Efforts to forensically recover the original destroyed Displace 3D computer simulations during ensuing civil litigation and federal criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force were unsuccessful,” it added.

“In agreeing to plead guilty, Halliburton has accepted criminal responsibility for destroying the aforementioned evidence.”

So they get fined $200,000. Their executives probably spend more than that on escorts in a weekend. They did this because they knew they could get away with it and face, at the most, a small fine. That’s the same reason they bribed foreign officials, violated our sanctions against Iran, overcharged the government over and over again and did other things that made them a ton of money. Because they knew if they got caught, it would only cost them a fraction of what they’d earned.

How do you fix this? Start putting CEOs in jail. That’ll put a stop to it quickly.

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  • I don’t understand.

    Minion: “We wanted 21. BP used 6. We ran sims, and there was little difference.”

    Dr. No: “So the conclusion is that nobody looks bad? Destroy it!”

  • steve oberski

    Start putting CEOs in jail

    That’s pretty harsh on serial killers, pimps, paedophiles and televangelical grifters.

  • Larry

    Has Joe Barton (R-Oil Companies) apologized to Halliburton yet and offered up a bill to pay the fine (plus a little extra for the troubles) from the food stamp program?

  • daved

    I recall hearing about this case a couple of days go, and that the reason the fine is only $200,000 is that that is the largest fine that the law allows for this particular offense.

  • Sally Stearns

    See I’ve never understood why fines are limited, wouldn’t it make more sense to have it written into our laws that fines may be assessed equal to the amount of ill-gotten gains?

  • steve oberski

    @Sally Stearns

    I’ll hazard a guess and say that perhaps the very same people who break those laws had a big hand in crafting them.

  • Alverant

    But isn’t putting CEOs in jail socialism? [sarcasm]

    Since this coverup was connected to multiple deaths, shouldn’t there be more criminal charges? [not sarcasm]

  • Chiroptera

    $200000? I bet they can recover that by cancelling Christmas bonuses for the peons.

  • I’m certainly sympathetic to imprisoning corrupt corporate leaders for their crimes. Corporations may be people, but it’s hard to throw them into prison cells.

    For alternatives that are slightly less pie-in-the-sky (but only slightly), I’d consider making fines proportional to the offender’s income, rather than absolute numbers.

  • velociraptor

    It would be interesting to see the bonues recieved by the CEOs this year. I agree with Ed – this crap will continue until there are real and severe consequences for tis kind of thing. If not, fines or prison at Club Med will be the best that can be hoped for.

    General population with hard-core felons seems most appropriate for these swine.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    200K? While it’s probably not literally pocket change for the CEO (2000 $100s, you know), it’s probably less than the credit limit on his Visa. It’s really disgraceful that this is the first place I’ve heard about this. It should be in every newspaper and news show on the front page or lead story. Oh, but I forgot who owns those.

  • The wells were a strategic partnership between too big to fail and too big to jail.

  • rory

    One point of clarification (and if I’m mistaken on this, someone please correct me): my understanding is that Halliburton ran these simulations after the blowout occurred. The results were concealed because they showed no major difference in outcome with 21 centralizers versus 6–hiding that fact allowed Halliburton to point the finger squarely at BP, which might have spared them closer scrutiny of things that were actually in their control.


  • gopiballava

    You keep saying that you can’t put a corporation in jail. Let’s be creative here. Official corporate documents will be imprisoned in a supermax prison. Officers of the corporation that need to take official actions must be present and visit the documents after undergoing a full search for contraband. Corporate meetings must be held in the prison visitor room. Any bad behavior and visiting hours are reduced.

  • “I recall hearing about this case a couple of days go, and that the reason the fine is only $200,000 is that that is the largest fine that the law allows for this particular offense.”

    I have a strong suspicion that these dollar amounts were set decades ago and haven’t been updated to reflect inflation or the growing size of corporations, because, you know, we have to protect the job-creators so they can create jobs. We’re just looking out for the little guy.