U.S. pressuring Transocean employees to testify in Gulf oil spill investigation

Alejandro de los Rios Apr. 6, 2011, 3:13am

U.S Interior Department officials have sent subpoenas to three Transocean employees, seeking to compel them to testify before the Join Investigation Team overseeing last year's Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The employees, however, are not planning to testify.

Michael Bromwich, Director of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement sent a letter March 31 to Transocean calling the employee's refusal to testify "unacceptable."

Transocean attorneys claim that, since the employees have retained outside counsel, they are "beyond Transocean's control."

Bromwich suggested that Transocean "make creative and aggressive use of [corporate] incentives and sanctions," including threat of unemployment, to convince the employees to testify.

The hearings are set to take this week in New Orleans.

Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires on April 1, attorneys for the employees refusing to testify said they advised their clients to ignore the government subpoenas.

"It's not in anybody's best interest to participate in [the hearings] anymore," Baton Rouge attorney Michael Walsh is quoted as saying.

Attorneys for the Transocean employees say that the Joint Investigative Team has conducted hearings poorly and don't know enough about the equipment they're investigating.

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