July 10 A judge in Michigan has ruled that
Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. must face a
criminal trial on a charge of bid-rigging with competitor Encana
Corp at a 2010 state land lease auction, citing
evidence of a conspiracy between the companies that drove state
lease prices down sharply.
The ruling, issued on Wednesday by Judge Maria Barton of
Michigan's Cheboygan County District Court, dismissed two other
criminal charges brought against Chesapeake by the office of
Michigan's Attorney General. The two other charges alleged that
the company struck a deal with Encana to avoid competing for
land leases from private landowners in Michigan, and had
attempted antitrust violations against those landowners.
"The direct and circumstantial evidence established that
the parties did in fact strike an agreement to bid-rig the State
sale," Barton's ruling says.
(Reporting By Joshua Schneyer in New York and Brian Grow in
Atlanta, Editing by Franklin Paul)