(Adds Chevron statement)
WASHINGTON Dec 23 Chevron Corp (CVX.N) has
agreed to pay almost $46 million to settle charges it underpaid
royalties owed for natural gas produced from federal and Indian
leases, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.
Chevron and the two companies it now owns, Texaco and
Unocal Inc, were accused of under-reporting the value of the
natural gas they took between March 1988 and November 2008 and
therefore paid less royalties than owed, the Justice Department
Companies are required to report the value of the natural
gas they produce from federal and Indian leases and pay a
percentage as royalties.
"This settlement successfully ends long-standing litigation
and ensures that taxpayers receive their fair share of royalty
revenues from energy production on federal and American Indian
lands," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service
oversees the collection of royalties from the leases.
Most of the money will be disbursed to federal, state and
American Indian accounts that were affected by the
underpayments, Salazar said.
Chevron said in a statement it settled the case "simply to
bring an end to a long and expensive legal proceeding" and that
all claims were resolved by mutual agreement.
"The agreement states that Chevron makes no admission of
any kind concerning improper or fraudulent actions or omissions
on its part and Chevron re-asserts that it did not engage in
such activities," the statement said.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by Richard Chang, Phil
Berlowitz and Andre Grenon)