Ex-BP exec can be tried on obstruction charge

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm •  Published: June 30, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former BP executive can be tried on a charge that he obstructed a congressional investigation into the 2010 Gulf oil spill, a federal appeals court in New Orleans said in a ruling posted Monday.

The case involves allegations that David Rainey failed to disclose information from BP PLC indicating that the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion could have been far higher than estimates that were being made publicly.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt had ruled in favor of defense lawyers, who said the law that Rainey was charged with breaking refers specifically to congressional committees, but not subcommittees.

But three-judge 5th Circuit panel disagreed, saying the law includes congressional subcommittees, and reversed Engelhardt's ruling.

Prosecutors allege that Rainey during a May 4, 2010, congressional briefing failed to disclose information about the estimated rate that oil was spewing from BP's blown-out Macondo well after the April rig explosion. They also claim Rainey responded to a letter from a subcommittee chairman, then-Rep. Edward Markey, with false and misleading information about flow-rate estimates. Markey is now a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

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