MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

Updated 6:26 p.m., Thursday, November 15, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A day of reckoning arrived for BP on Thursday as the oil giant agreed to plead guilty to a raft of charges in the deadly Gulf of Mexico spill and pay a record $4.5 billion, including the biggest criminal fine in U.S. history. Three BP employees were also charged, two of them with manslaughter.

The settlement with the federal government came 2½ years after the fiery drilling-rig explosion that killed 11 workers and set off the nation’s largest offshore oil spill.

In announcing the deal, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the tragedy “resulted from BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence.”

BP will plead guilty to charges involving the 11 deaths and lying to Congress about how much oil was spewing from the blown-out well.

“We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders,” said Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP chairman. “It removes two significant legal risks and allows us to vigorously defend the company against the remaining civil claims.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/texas/article/BP-agrees-to-pay-4-5B-3-employees-charged-4040657.php#ixzz2CQlYr1CD