Federal prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro late on Wednesday filed criminal charges against 17 Chevron and drill rig operator Transocean's executives and the companies for an oil leak in the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil in November.
According to Chevron, the leak was stopped within four days and none of the oil that leaked into the Atlantic actually reached the shore or affected any of the marine life. Chevron has already been fined an estimated $110m for the spill after the $11bn civil lawsuit was brought in November.
In a statement the company said: “These charges are outrageous and without merit. Once all the facts are fully examined, they will demonstrate that Chevron and its employees responded appropriately and responsibly to the incident.” In spite of the outrage by those targeted the move was applauded by environmentalists.
Prison sentences for the accused, if found guilty, could be up to 31 years, according to the filing.