Felony charges could be filed in early 2012 against several engineers in Houston and at least one of their supervisors for providing false information in federal documents, sources who requested anonymity told the Journal. Prosecutors say the BP employees may have given false information about the safety of drilling in the Deepwater Horizon oil well.
The Department of Justice could choose not to file any charges and may be using the prospect as a threat to pressure employees to cooperate with the investigation, the sources said.
Legal experts said BP could face a criminal charge for violating the federal Clean Water Act in addition to the roughly $36.6 million it has already been fined by U.S. regulators for safety violations.
BP spokesman Daren Beaudo declined to comment on the potential charges, though the company has said it believes the April 2010 oil rig explosion was caused by a combination of events and involved multiple parties, not just BP.