A former BP Plc engineer deliberately destroyed evidence sought by the U.S. for a probe of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico well explosion and oil spill, a federal prosecutor said at the end of a trial in New Orleans.
Prosecutors charged the engineer, Kurt Mix, with two counts of obstruction of justice last year, alleging he deleted from his mobile phone text messages and voice mails related to BP’s effort to estimate the size of the spill. Mix was a senior engineer involved in leading efforts to cap the Macondo well as crude gushed into the gulf.
“Kurt Mix knew exactly what was on that text message string when he deleted it on Oct. 4 and 5 and intended to obstruct this grand jury investigation,” Leo Tsao, a federal prosecutor, told the jury today. “The defendant acted with corrupt intent when he deleted text messages.”
The blowout of BP’s deep-water Macondo well off the coast of Louisiana in April 2010 killed 11 people and set off the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. BP agreed last year to pay $4 billion to resolve the federal criminal probe of its role in the spill.
The London-based company pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts including 11 for felony manslaughter, one misdemeanor under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanor under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one felony count of obstruction of Congress for misrepresenting the size of the spill.
Mix, the first defendant in a criminal case over the spill to face a jury, was accused of deleting multiple messages, including one in which he said the spill was bigger than the company said it was. Mix denies intentionally destroying evidence and has pleaded not guilty.
The case is U.S. v. Mix, 12-cr-00171, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).
(Editors: Andrew Dunn, Charles Carter)
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