Friday, June 18, 2010

Hayward's Testimony: BP Deja Vu

Apologize profusely and say nothing else. BP CEO Tony Hayward lived up to that mantra in his Congressional testimony.

Tony is not the first BP chief executive to use corporate risk management language in his testimony. Lord John Browne gave a deposition in April 2008 regarding the Texas City refinery explosion, an accident that occurred in March 2005. It killed 15 people.

Browne was asked about BP's investigation practices (page 56 of his deposition):

Q. (BY MR. COON) Mr. Browne, I'm showing you Exhibit 13, which has previously been identified in this litigation. Have you seen that document before, sir?

A. No, I haven't.

Q. Let me represent to you that these are words that BP investigators were admonished not to use in their reports. Are you ever aware of investigators conducting investigations into incidents that BP admonished not to use certain types of language?

A. No, I wasn't.

Here's the kicker (page 9):

Q. And, Mr. Browne, have you given testimony before in either this matter -- do you understand we are deposing you principally regarding the explosion that happened in Texas City in March, 2005? Have you given testimony in that capacity before, sir?

A. No, I haven't.

The issue arises later (pages 66-67)

Q. (BY MR. COON) Mr. Browne, with respect to the ongoing investigations with the FBI, the Department of Justice and others, did you have any discussions with any of the investigative legal authorities about any of the BP matters, being the BP explosion or the Alaskan pipeline problems or the gas trading problems?

A. No, I didn't.

BP's trading problems resulted in a $303 million fine. Alaska pipeline problems resulted in $20 million in fines and restitution. It paid roughly $150 million in fines for the Texas City explosion.

Lord John Browne had no discussions with investigative legal authorities for behavior resulting in nearly $475 million in fines. That speaks to a class of Americans immune to the law.

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