Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Destroying Evidence; Stock Rises

By William Peacock, Esq. on July 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The chickens ain't coming home to roost any time soon.

Halliburton just admitted to committing a crime. Specifically, they ran simulations that attempted to pinpoint the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, and when those simulations failed to back their hypothesis that BP was to blame for diverting from Halliburton's design specs, they destroyed all traces of the simulations, reports USA Today.

The company pled guilty earlier to the charges last week, and their "punishment" will be to pay a fine of $200,000 and will be put on probation for three years. They'll also make a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

If you're feeling the need to stifle your laughter, we're with you. Seriously, what is the point of charging a corporation with a crime. We know, they are "people" in the legal sense, but if the multi-billion dollar company faces only a catering bill's worth of a fine, and "probation" (No new DUIs or other breaches of the peace, corporate Hal!), and gets $55 million dollars worth of P.R. material and tax deductions, is there really any deterrent effect whatsoever?

Think about it like this: you get a DUI. In response, the court makes you buy donuts and coffee for the next AA meeting and requires you to donate a few hundred bucks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. You'll definitely think twice before getting behind the wheel drunk in the future, right? Riiiggghht.

Oh yeah, and their stock went up 27.8 percent on the year and 3.8 percent in early trading on Friday, per USA Today (down just a smidge on Monday). It seems the "guilty plea" held little sway with traders, especially in light of the company's announcement of estimate-beating earnings and $3.3 billion worth of stock buybacks.

The only just desserts to come from the whole destroying-evidence blip is the speculative possibility of civil consequences. Halliburton just admitted, in court, that they destroyed evidence. For any still-pending lawsuits (possibly including suits brought by Florida and Texas), it is possible that the court could presume that the destroyed evidence would have harmed the company's case through a spoliation of evidence penalty.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard