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Feb. 14 hearing to rule on rig owner's criminal settlement over Gulf oil disaster

A federal judge in New Orleans has scheduled a Feb. 14 hearing to decide whether to accept the Justice Department's criminal settlement with Transocean Ltd. over the company's role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Transocean owned the rig that sank after an explosion killed 11 workers and spawned the spill. It agreed last Thursday to pay $400 million in criminal penalties and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act. The Switzerland-based company also agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties.

A different judge will decide whether to accept Transocean's civil settlement with the federal government.

Transocean can withdraw from its criminal plea deal if the judge rejects it.

BP was leasing the rig from Transocean.

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