18 April 2014, News Wires – US securities regulators have reached a settlement with a former BP Macondo incident commander over charges of insider trading in the wake of the 2010 lethal blowout, according to documents released Thursday.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleges that then-BP incident commander Keith Seilhan sold off the entire $1 million share position held by him and his family on 29 and 30 April 2010 following the 20 April incident.
Seilhan, 47, of Tomball, Texas has neither denied or admitted to the allegations but agreed to hand over to the government $105,409 in alleged “ill-gotten” gains and pay a civil penalty of $105,409 plus $13,300 in interest, the SEC said.
He has also been ordered to never again violate US securities laws, according to the settlement pending court approval.
BP’s press office declined comment.
“Seilhan sold his family’s BP securities after he received confidential information about the severity of the spill that the public didn’t know,” Daniel Hawke, chief of the market abuse unit in the SEC’s enforcement division.
“Corporate insiders must not misuse the material nonpublic information they receive while responding to unique or disastrous corporate events, even where they stand to suffer losses as a consequence of those events.”
In a complaint filed on Thursday in US federal court in Louisiana, the SEC alleged that Seilhan’s sales included personal and family holdings in the BP stock fund in retirement accounts.
“In addition, Defendant exercised three different sets of options to purchase BP ADSs and immediately sold the underlying shares,” the agency said.
By June of that year, BP shares had fallen by 48%.
At that time BP was working to calm public fears about the spill with a public flow estimate of 5000 barrels per day, the SEC said, while internal documents indicated a flow rate could be over 60,000 barrels.
The well continued belching oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 84 days before finally being capped on 15 July 2010, ultimately spilling nearly 5 million barrels of oil.
Eleven workers were killed in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig.