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NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge today approved an agreement for BP plc to pay $4.5 billion in penalties in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The settlement includes a criminal fine of $1.256 billion, the largest such levy in U.S. history.
In addition to paying the fine, BP must also plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges for its role in the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance called the plea deal "just punishment," as opposed to a long drawn out trial that would delay compensation to victims.
According to the Associated Press, Vance heard testimony from relatives of 11 workers who died as a result of the oil spill.
"I've heard and I truly understand your feeling and the losses you suffered," the judge said.
Luke Keller, vice president of BP America, apologized to the relatives who died.
"BP knows there is nothing we can say to diminish their loss," Keller said, the news outlet reported. "The lives lost and those forever changed will stay with us. We are truly sorry." As CSNews Online reported on November 15, BP agreed to the $4.5 billion fine, which included $4 billion in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and $525 million with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.