RIO DE JANEIRO, March 18 (UPI) -- A Brazilian court has ordered 17 executives from U.S. oil giant Chevron not to leave the country until it mulls criminal charges against them for an oil spill.
Among the executives ordered to surrender their passports is American George Buck, chief operating officer of Chevron's Brazil division, CNN reported Sunday.
"Any legal decision will be abided by the company and its employees," Chevron spokesman Kurt Glabuitz said. "We will defend the company and its employees."
The November spill released about 3,000 barrels of oil into deep water off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, CNN said.
Brazilian federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit in December against Chevron and Transocean -- the rig operator -- for $11 billion in damages. Prosecutors said they also plan to halt Chevron's oil drilling operations in the vicinity.
"Chevron and Transocean were not able to control the damages caused by the spilling of almost 3,000 barrels of oil, which shows a lack of environmental planning and management by the companies," the prosecutors office said in a statement in December.