A US federal judge has approves British oil giant BP's US $ 525 Million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for low-balling the amount of oil spilled during its 2010 Gulf of Mexico explosion. US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans approved the settlement this week, asking BP to pay the fine in three payments within 20 months, according to the website of the Houston Chronicle. The SEC charges alleged that BP misstated the range of possible rates at which oil was flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, data that could inform investors' decisions about buying or selling BP stocks. The judgment in the SEC charges is separate from BP's proposed settlement of criminal charges related to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and resulting oil spill, according to the Houston Chronicle. BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress, and pay a US $ 4-billion criminal penalty to solve federal criminal charges by the U. S. Justice Department. Four individuals also face criminal charges stemming from the BP spill. The 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico triggered an explosion that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in US history. Last month, BP reached an agreement with the US Justice Department to pay 4.5 billion US dollars in fines and other payments to resolve all federal criminal charges and all claims by the SEC against the company stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, the subsequent oil spill and the response. The BP penalty is setting a record as the largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the US Department of Justice was the 1.2 billion dollars fine imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009. The Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd., was drilling about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast on the night of April 20, 2010, when a blow-out of the well a mile under the Gulf surface caused an explosion and fire. The rig sank less than 2 days later. More than 200 million gallons of oil flowed from the well, soiling marshes and fishing grounds, before a cap was placed over the well several months later.