NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of BHP Billiton (BHP) - Get Report are retreating by 4.54% to $26.71 on Friday afternoon, as federal police in Brazil presented evidence today resulting from their seven month long investigation into the Samarco Mineração dam collapse.
Samarco Mineração is the company's joint venture with fellow mining giant Vale SA (VALE).
The police requested formal charges be brought against several Samarco executives, the Wall Street Journal reports. Former CEO Ricardo Vescovi and a manager at a nearby mine belonging to Vale are among those police want charged with environmental crimes.
Samarco Mineração, is accused of knowing for years that there were cracks and drainage issues at the Fundão tailings dam, which collapsed on Nov. 5, the Journal noted.
Top executives from both mining companies are accused of prioritizing production over safety. There were 19 people killed when the dam fell and hundreds of miles of river were polluted as a result.
"Don't call it an accident," Roger Lima de Moura, the head of the Brazilian federal police task force looking into the dam collapse told the Journal. Moura believes the companies are "more than negligent."
Police say the evidence shows the companies were sufficiently aware enough of the issues to consider purchasing and relocating the village of Bento Rodrigues, which was destroyed by a wave of dam waste, authorities continued.