On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that Aubrey McClendon was charged with conspiring to rig bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.
The indictment claims that McClendon orchestrated a conspiracy between two large oil and gas companies to not bid against each other for oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.
According to Bloomberg Business, Tom Ward, former chairman and chief executive officer of SandRidge Energy Inc., conspired with McClendon to rig the drilling auctions.
However, NewsChannel 4 has not been able to independently verify this.
The conspiracy allegedly ran from December 2007 to March 2012, during which time McClendon was CEO of Chesapeake and Ward was CEO of SandRidge.
Investigators claim the conspirators would decide ahead of time who would win the leases.
The winning bidder would then assign an interest in the leases to the other company.
McClendon and Ward co-founded Chesapeake Energy in 1989.
After leaving Chesapeake, Ward helped found SandRidge in 2006.
According to Bloomberg Business, he was fired as CEO of SandRidge in June 2013 “without cause.”
McClendon served as chairman and CEO of Chesapeake until he retired in 2013.
He retired after allegations started surfacing of possible price-fixing.
When McClendon was indicted for conspiring to rig bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma on Tuesday, he released the following statement:
“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented. I have been singled out as the only person in the oil and gas industry in over 110 years since the Sherman Act became law to have been accused of this crime in relation to joint bidding on leasehold. Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws. All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.” – Aubrey McClendon
Less than 24 hours after the indictment, McClendon crashed head-on into an overpass embankment on Midwest Blvd. near Memorial Rd.
Police say McClendon died instantly from the crash. After that, his 2013 Chevy Tahoe caught fire.
“He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” Balderrama said. “The information out there at the scene is that he went left of center, went through a grassy area right before colliding into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway and that didn’t occur.”
After news of his death spread, the U.S. Attorney’s Office told KFOR that they plan to file a motion to dismiss the charges against McClendon Thursday afternoon.