A federal judge ordered an indefinite delay Wednesday in the trial of a former BP executive accused of lying to Congress.

David Rainey, BP’s former vice president of exploration, is accused of obstructing Congress and lying to federal investigators about the amount of oil spilling from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in April 2010.

Rainey’s trial had been set to start on March 10.

He allegedly failed to disclose internal information from BP that showed the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the blowout might have been much higher than estimates made public.

The trial is delayed pending an appeal by prosecutors after U.S. District Judge Kurt Englehardt dismissed the obstruction-of-Congress charge.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal has scheduled arguments for the week of April 28. A decision in the appeal could come months later.

The obstruction charge involves Rainey’s testimony at a subcommittee briefing on May 4, 2010, and his replies that month to written questions, the AP reported.

Judge Englehardt ruled that “it wasn’t clear that the obstruction law applies to subcommittees, and that the indictment failed to allege that Rainey knew of the pending congressional investigation he was charged with obstructing,” the AP said.

The U.S. Justice Department alleged in a superseding indictment that the House Energy and Commerce Committee was investigating the blowout through its subcommittee on energy and environment and that Rainey knew about the investigation.


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