UPDATE 4-Massey faces criminal probe for mine blast-sources

* FBI conducting criminal probe of Massey

* Massey shares plummet after report
(Adds closing share price.)

By Jeremy Pelofsky and Steve James

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, April 30 (BestGrowthStock) – Massey Energy Co
(MEE.N: ) is under criminal investigation by the FBI after the
deadly mine explosion in West Virginia, U.S. officials familiar
with the matter said on Friday, news that sent the company’s
stock plummeting.

The FBI is probing the company and the circumstances
surrounding the explosion which killed 29 miners, including for
potential negligence, the officials said, declining further
identification.

The miners died at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal,
West Virginia, on April 5, in the worst U.S. mining disaster
since 1970.

President Barack Obama attended a memorial service for the
men on Sunday and stressed the need for greater mine safety. On
April 15, he placed primary blame for the disaster on Massey.

FBI and Justice Department officials declined to comment.
National Public Radio reported that the agency that regulates
the industry, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, was
also under investigation related to potential bribery, but one
U.S. official denied that report.

“We are aware that investigators are interviewing
witnesses, but are not aware of the nature of their
investigation,” the company said in a statement. “We intend to
cooperate in all phases of the accident investigation.”

Shares of Massey Energy dropped 11 percent, or $4.53, to
$36.63 by the end of regular trading on the New York Stock
Exchange. The stock is down 33 percent since the explosion.

Another mining accident happened this week in which two
miners were killed in a Kentucky mine when a roof collapsed.

Massey earlier this week accused unions of spreading a “big
lie” that the company had traded safety for profit, and Massey
director Bobby Inman dismissed calls by shareholders to remove
Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship.

Inman said Blankenship had borne the brunt of criticism for
the accident at the Upper Big Branch, where the 29 miners who
died were non-union, and he said firing the CEO was “not in the
cards.”

Last week, Blankenship denied the explosion was the result
of “willful disregard” for safety regulations but acknowledged
that eight Massey mines were targets for an inspection “blitz”
by MSHA.

Earlier the company said it will take a second-quarter
charge of $80 million to $150 million to cover family benefits
and costs of the blast at the mine.

“The explosion was not caused by willful disregard for
safety regulations, as the media would have you believe. We
have one of the most comprehensive safety programs,”
Blankenship told Wall Street analysts.

Organized labor has charged that Massey’s safety record is
inferior to that of most other major coal companies. “The big
truth is that 52 people have been killed on Massey property
since 2000,” United Mine Workers of America spokesman Phil
Smith told Reuters. “No other coal company has had even half
that.”

One investor, CtW, has called on shareholders to vote for
removal of three directors because the Upper Big Branch blast
“destroyed $1.1 billion in shareholder value, was preventable
and occurred at a mine with an alarming record of serious
violations.”

Also, the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP said it
has filed a class action suit on behalf of Massey shareholders
charging Massey and company officers and directors with
violations of the Securities Exchange Act.

Stock Report

(Additional reporting by James Vicini in Washington; editing
by Gerald E. McCormick, Lisa Von Ahn and Bernard Orr)

UPDATE 4-Massey faces criminal probe for mine blast-sources