As BP and a senior BP engineer learned, trying to protect a company by deleting texts and voice mail messages after a tragedy occurs not only hurts the company, but the employee can also face criminal prosecution for doing so. After the 2010 BP oil spill gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, one of BP’s senior engineers, after being told repeatedly not to delete messages, still deleted text messages and voice mails to allegedly hide that BP’s internal estimates of the flow rate from the well were “well above” the numbers the company was citing publicly. The flow rate was also above the flow rate that would make the proposed “fix” of the well spill a viable option.
The U.S. was able to recover most of the employee’s deleted texts using forensic measures. BP has already agreed to pay $4 billion to resolve the federal criminal probe of its role, but the senior engineer’s criminal trial on two obstruction of justice charges started on December 4, 2013. For more, click here.