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Hallibuton Pleads Guilty To Destroying Simulation Data From 2010 Gulf Oil Spill 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Oilfield services giant Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying computer test results that had been sought as evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Company officials threw out test results that showed 'little difference' between the number of devices Halliburton said was needed to center the cement casing in the well at the heart of the disaster and the number well owner BP installed, according to court papers. The issue has been key point of contention between the two companies in hearings and litigation ever since the April 2010 blowout. BP and Halliburton are still battling over responsibility for the disaster in a New Orleans federal courtroom. BP had no comment on the plea agreement Thursday evening."
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Hallibuton Pleads Guilty To Destroying Simulation Data From 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

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  • what don't we know? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by globaljustin (574257)

    from TFA:

    Halliburton has agreed to pay the maximum fines available, be put on probation for three years and cooperate with federal agencies that are still investigating the spill, the Justice Department said in a statement announcing Thursday's agreement. In addition Halliburton has made a $55 million "voluntary contribution" to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,

    They 'took a deal' in the parlance of the criminal justice world.

    I'm wondering what else is out there. Also in TFA I read that BP was 'conv

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Plead guilty to destroying evidence and convicted of manslaughter ... and no one will go to jail. Try that in non-corporate America.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday July 26, 2013 @06:43AM (#44389717) Homepage

        Plead guilty to destroying evidence and convicted of manslaughter ... and no one will go to jail.

        Yep.

        If the order was given to destroy data then there HAS to be a person who gave that order. It's time they were hunted down.

        Presumably it's the same person who's now telling them to plead guilty (and save his ass from further investigation).

        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          If the order was given to destroy data then there HAS to be a person who gave that order. It's time they were hunted down.

          The thing is, this being Halliburton, it's possible that the person that gave the order to destroy evidence has already gotten away with much more heinous crimes and effectively has immunity from prosecution for anything he does. And if they try to hunt him down, he might shoot them in the face.

          • by ozydingo (922211)

            The thing is, this being Halliburton, it's virtually guaranteed that the person that gave the order to destroy evidence has already gotten away with much more heinous crimes and effectively has immunity from prosecution for anything he does.

            FTFY

          • If the order was given to destroy data then there HAS to be a person who gave that order. It's time they were hunted down.

            The thing is, this being Halliburton, it's possible that the person that gave the order to destroy evidence has already gotten away with much more heinous crimes and effectively has immunity from prosecution for anything he does. And if they try to hunt him down, he might shoot them in the face.

            No, I'm sure he would only shoot his friends in the face but he probably would have an airtight walk-in safe for everyone else.

        • But all record of the order is probably 'lost' too.

          Any competent criminal giving such a cover-up instruction would visit their underling in person and give the order verbally, rather than risk any form of electronic communication or written record.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        We need a system of punishments that really works for corporations. The corporation can't break the law without specific people also breaking the law on behalf of the corporation. Those who gave the orders need to go to jail and those who followed the orders also need to go to jail, and the fines have to be meaningful deterrrents and object lessons to other corporations. It has to be made MUCH more expensive to be caught breaking the law than to obey it. Take a year's revenue from a company like Hallibu

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:20AM (#44389307)

      In my wildest conspiracy theories, the English Monarchy and other old money global illuminati types (Bush's?) purposefully had the well blown to punish America for stopping Keystone XL.

      In my wildest conspiracy theories, the very rich and mighty are still people and fuck up often. The only difference is that they consider some millions of dollars to just be the expected cost of doing business.

      • by eth1 (94901)

        In my wildest conspiracy theories, the English Monarchy and other old money global illuminati types (Bush's?) purposefully had the well blown to punish America for stopping Keystone XL.

        In my wildest conspiracy theories, the very rich and mighty are still people and fuck up often. The only difference is that they consider some millions of dollars and a few dead peons to just be the expected cost of doing business.

        FTFY...

    • Just pay the fine and it's back to business for them.
    • These companies don't 'take deals' unless it is the absolute last option.

      Not true. A quick settlement is often far cheaper than drawn-out litigation for which a company must pay a legal team thousands of dollars per hour. This happens in lawsuits all the time, with corporations, government entities, and individuals. Patent trolls and bringers of nuisance lawsuits depend on this behavior.

      I don't have an opinion about this case, but just wanted to say that it's a bad idea to assume "it was cheaper to settle quickly" is evidence of guilt.

      • it's a bad idea to assume "it was cheaper to settle quickly" is evidence of guilt.

        You're missing potentialities and it causes you to focus too narrowly on a few outcomes.

        It *could* be cheaper to settle quickly...for alot of reasons...but not in this case...

        Ex: It could be cheaper to settle quickly because it gets it out of the news (hopefully on a good note) quickly which has a discernable effect on the ammount of awards from juries in civil cases.

        I don't agree, but that's a falsification of my position tha

  • I know it is early, but posting before coffee is irresponsible (I just had to use the spell-checker myself).

    • by korbulon (2792438)

      I know it is early, but posting before coffee is irresponsible (I just had to use the spell-checker myself).

      It would be an ever better headline if it said "Halle Berry".

  • $200.000 in fines (Score:5, Informative)

    by Racerdude (1006357) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:55AM (#44389239)
    "Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years' probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000..."
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/07/25/halliburton-guilty-plea-destroying-evidence-deepwater-horizon/2588105/ [usatoday.com]

    Not too bad... I think they may be able to afford it.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah good thing they didn't perform wire fraud(or weren't prosecuted for that)..

      just regular good 'ol boys fraud affecting billions of dollars..

      • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:18AM (#44389457)

        "Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years' probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000..."

        yeah good thing they didn't perform wire fraud(or weren't prosecuted for that)..

        just regular good 'ol boys fraud affecting billions of dollars..

        Foul up an entire ecosystem, wreck the lives of thousands, destroy the evidence, pay $200.000.
        Download 30 songs off a torrent pay $675.000.

        I can't imagine I'm the only one who thinks that is a broke way of valuing things. How about handing in one of those White House petitions about this issue and asking them what they are going to do about it. The answer should be interesting. Even if it turns out to be a gust of hot air at least we'd get to see them squirm for a while.

        • by gmack (197796)

          Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

          • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday July 26, 2013 @08:29AM (#44390235)

            Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

            That in itself is a criminal act that if you did it in a non-corporate trial would result in prison time, not a fine.

            • Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

              That in itself is a criminal act that if you did it in a non-corporate trial would result in prison time, not a fine.

              The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison. What would be a logical equivalence would be to to require corporations to give the govt a percentage ownership of stock in the company as a fine and the govt will dump the stock on the open market after the equivalent jail time has expired.

              • The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison

                Yes there is. Probably more than one. Someone gave the order to perform an illegal activity. Someone followed the order to perform an illegal activity.

                Listen, Halliburton being a corporation doesn't give them some sort of mystical disembodied super-power. It's a group of people. The same as a mafia gang, plumber's union, government, military troop, or book club. If someone in your book club decided to go murder their mother, you don't get thrown in jail. If the head of the plumbers union uses the union's f

                • by Shavano (2541114)

                  The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison

                  Yes there is. Probably more than one. Someone gave the order to perform an illegal activity. Someone followed the order to perform an illegal activity.

                  ...If the the general orders his troops to go on a raping spree, and they all do it, then they all go to jail.

                  I beg to differ. What really happens is the incident is covered up and nobody goes to jail unless the press gets hold of the story and then there's a slight chance that a few of the lowest-level soldiers will go to jail.

                  • The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison

                    Yes there is. Probably more than one. Someone gave the order to perform an illegal activity. Someone followed the order to perform an illegal activity.

                    ...If the the general orders his troops to go on a raping spree, and they all do it, then they all go to jail.

                    I beg to differ. What really happens is the incident is covered up and nobody goes to jail unless the press gets hold of the story and then there's a slight chance that a few of the lowest-level soldiers will go to jail.

                    Yeah... It always seems that they always find some scapegoat at the lowest-level who was "operating independently".
                    It would be nice if the "buck stops here" happens and after identifying the henchman who dunnit, they imprison all managers from him upwards including the CEO.

              • by Shavano (2541114)

                A corporation cannot break the law without individual human beings in that corporation breaking that law. Those people should go to prison. If the person who broke the law cannot be identified, jail everybody from VP on up and the board of directors.

                Your proposed solution delays the punishment and the longer the sentence the more it is delayed. That means there will be no real punishment for serious crimes. I say make them pay now and pay big, up to and if necessary including the entire value of the com

        • So, how much will those in the IRS have to pay for destroying evidence?
          Sauce for the goose.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          In all fairness, it's 200k in criminal penalties for destroying some evidence. They've added another $55 million towards the Fish and Wildlife Fund. $55,200,000 is still pretty small for Halliburton, but it's a lot more than just $200k. Also, there's been over $1.6 billion in criminal fines from BP and TransOcean so its not like the companies involved are getting away cheaply.

          From what I've read, they recommended 21 centralizers, but BP chose to go with 6 instead since the simulation said there is little

        • by Bob9113 (14996)

          How about handing in one of those White House petitions about this issue and asking them what they are going to do about it. The answer should be interesting.

          I think you haven't seen many of the answers to petitions that challenge the whims of the oligarchy. They sometimes run into tens, or even dozens of words, but boil down to, "No, because I said so."

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:24AM (#44389319)

    Did they throw out the simulation code as well?

    • I'm sure the code has been modified by now to show "better" results. "Version control? Why would we want old inferior versions?"
    • by Hartree (191324)

      That's not the point. They apparently were under orders to preserve materials in case they were needed as evidence, but deleted them.

      It would be like destroying the original of an unfavorable contract you were trying to quash and then saying you couldn't find it. You might be able to reconstruct it, or print out a facsimile of it, but the problem was the obstruction of the court process rather than the actual destruction.

      • by Hartree (191324)

        My bad. At the time of the destruction, they weren't yet under orders to preserve, but they were found to have destroyed it specifically so they couldn't have it used in court. That's still seen as obstructing justice.

        However many of the headlines related to this are misleading in that they imply that Halliburton has plead guilty to being responsible for the disaster. You have to read farther into the article to see that they plead guilty to destroying computer simulations.

        And let's remember, that it's BP t

        • by jabuzz (182671)

          You don't destroy evidence like that if you have nothing to hide. No single party is likely to be entirely responsible for the disaster, and there has been some jingoistic sentiment in the USA that it was all the fault of the nasty foreign company. Something that is highly improbable.

          It is not all Halliburton's fault, but it is also not all BP fault either.

          • by Hartree (191324)

            The big international oil majors are so widely distributed that it's really misleading to think of them in terms of "foreign" or "domestic".

            Just as BP might get some unwarranted scorn for being British, Halliburton gets it for being associated with Cheney. Neither is really the point, but who did what and when is.

            As you say, there's plenty of blame to go around.

  • well fuck me! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thephydes (727739) on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:53AM (#44389393)
    If I pour crude oil into the ocean, destroy the livelyhoods of fishing communities and kill a few of people on an oil platform in a gas fire (and destroy some evidence), I'll get a couple of hundred $k fine. If I buy a gun and go out and shoot the same number of people (and survive the manhunt) I'll get the rest of my life being a jailhouse bitch. Now, I wonder which I would choose?? Haliburton, do you have any vacancies???
    • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Friday July 26, 2013 @07:59AM (#44390007)

      If I pour crude oil into the ocean, destroy the livelyhoods of fishing communities and kill a few of people on an oil platform in a gas fire (and destroy some evidence), I'll get a couple of hundred $k fine. If I buy a gun and go out and shoot the same number of people (and survive the manhunt) I'll get the rest of my life being a jailhouse bitch. Now, I wonder which I would choose?? Haliburton, do you have any vacancies???

      Dear phydes,

      We're sorry, your previous experience as a mass-murder is impressive, but you do not meet the minimum evil standards required to work at Halliburton.

      /s/ Dick Cheney

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If I pour crude oil into the ocean, destroy the livelyhoods of fishing communities and kill a few of people on an oil platform in a gas fire (and destroy some evidence), I'll get a couple of hundred $k fine. If I buy a gun and go out and shoot the same number of people (and survive the manhunt) I'll get the rest of my life being a jailhouse bitch. Now, I wonder which I would choose?? Haliburton, do you have any vacancies???

      Oh no, it's much better than that. If you pour crude oil into the ocean etc etc, you will wind up going to jail, because you are just one man. But if you operate a corporation such that such an outcome is inevitable, then you will get a fat bonus and the corporation will get a small fine.

  • by CoolGopher (142933) on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:00AM (#44389415)

    Editor. I do not think that word means what you think it means...

  • Title says "Hallibuton" (no 'r'), article says "Halliburton" (correct spelling).

  • so... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday July 26, 2013 @06:12AM (#44389643) Homepage Journal

    Halliburton perpetrates huge fraud on the government (in billions) and nothing is ever done.

    They defraud another corporation, they're in trouble.

    You see the pattern here? madoff is only in jail because he defrauded other rich people.

  • "We're not admitting our obvious, willful, and blatant guilt, we're just settling to save our precious shareholders from all those nasty legal fees!"

    BULLSHIT
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Another sweetheart deal for a company which caused tens of billions in damages. This kind of stuff isn't going to stop until we either start arresting CEO's and employees and charging them with crimes, or enacting the corporate equivalent of a death sentence, confiscating their funds & property and putting it on the auction block when they are caught committing crimes or are responsible of gross negligence resulting in injury, death or economic loss.

  • by Hartree (191324) on Friday July 26, 2013 @10:39AM (#44391415)

    My suspicious streak wonders if Anonymous Reader works in the BP PR department.

    Ok, we're bringing up Halliburton, which is seen by some as the gold standard in corporate evil, but let's remember that it's BP (AKA Broke Pipeline Inc) that's the plaintiff in this case and are trying to shift the responsibility to Halliburton.

    Given the stopping of preventive maintenance and replacing of experienced workers with cheaper ones that BP was widely known for, this is a bit of Pot Kettle Black.

    Halliburton hasn't been tagged yet with overall responsibility for the spill as some headlines have claimed, but for destroying computer simulations done before the lawsuits started. That's bad, but it's not some get out of jail free card for BP. There's plenty of responsibility left to go around, and BP was the final word on that rig, not the contractors.

    (Full disclosure: My brother worked for Arco before BP bought it. His division was spun off, but he heard quite a good deal about the bone stripping cost cutting that BP did after they bought it. That impacted repeated pipeline spills in Alaska and likely the Deepwater Horizon).

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Hahahah sorry to hear about your brother but that has given you a jaded view of how the industry works. Let me educate you. These companies don't DO anything. They buy, they own, and they subcontract. Halliburton is to blame for the cementing because BP doesn't do cementing and doesn't have the embedded knowledge of how to cement a well. What they have is lawyers which write up contracts and get other companies to do this for them.

      This has been the trend for every major oil and gas company in the last 20 ye

      • by Hartree (191324)

        Yes, I know the outsourcing trend. I also know people who work at the contractors. They'll do the job you pay them to do. When BP took over Arco's Alaska pipeline network, one of the things they didn't pay for was the same level of maintenance on the pipelines. And, surprise, they got corrosion and leaks.

        If you keep telling them to go cheap they'll do a cheaper job. But, like BP has experienced, you get problems.

        When you replace senior workers with younger workers you save money regardless of the base of th

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          You're seriously saying that BP isn't trying to transfer some of its liability to Halliburton (rightly or wrongly)?

          No. Transfer of liability is precisely what I'm saying. Get the experts in, let the lawyers write the contracts and then get them to do the job. If they under paid the experts that's not BP's fault. If I pay for a cementing job and someone quotes on it I expect them to do it properly, I don't expect to get hauled to the courts when this other job fails.

          Considering the myriad of companies involved in this fuckup I'm just amazed that BP copped the blunt of it.

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