July 25 (Reuters) - Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.
The government said Halliburton's guilty plea is the third by a company over the spill and requires the world's second-largest oilfield services company to pay a maximum $200,000 statutory fine.
Halliburton also agreed to three years of probation and to continue cooperating with the criminal probe into the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
Court approval is required. Houston-based Halliburton also made a separate, voluntary $55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Justice Department said.
Edward Sherman, a Tulane University law professor, said the plea could suggest weakness in Halliburton's position in negotiating a settlement over spill-related liabilities.
"Their willingness to plead to this may also indicate that they'd like to settle up with the federal government on the civil penalties," he said. "It may indicate a softening of their position."
Halliburton confirmed in a statement that it pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and confirmed the plea agreement's terms.
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