Photo: The Lost Ogle
Reuters’ Brian Grow and Joshua Schneyer have gotten their hands on emails that may show Chesapeake Energy attempted to rig bids over land leases in Michigan — a federal offence. “In the days after learning that Encana [a Canadian energy company at one point also interested in the land] was paring back, Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon ordered Chesapeake to renegotiate or delay closing on at least 10 deals that his company was negotiating with major land lease holders in Michigan, documents reviewed by Reuters show.
“In one email, McClendon directed a subordinate that it was time “to smoke a peace pipe” with Encana “if we are bidding each other up.”
Under the Sherman Antitrust Act, companies can be fined up to $100 million per count of price fixing, the reporters write.
The Justice Department launched a probe earlier this month into collusion allegations.
Chesapeake has been dogged by questions about its land deals since March, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported unusual arrangements in its deals with West Virginia landowners.
CEO Aubrey McClendon had been allowed under a special company perk to take personal stakes in up to 2.5 per cent of Chesapeake’s land deals, which many argued created a conflict of interest.
In May, McClendon was stripped of his board chairmanship, and Chesapeake recently replaced several company directors.