Justice Dept. probes Chesapeake over possible collusion

Justice Dept. probes Chesapeake over possible collusion by Diane Bartz and Brian Grow (Additional reporting by Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Martin Howell and Lisa Von Ahn), July 2, 2012, Reuters
The U.S. Justice Department is probing Chesapeake Energy Corp and Encana Corp for possible collusion after a Reuters report showed that top executives of the two rivals plotted in 2010 to avoid bidding against each other in Michigan land deals, a source close to the probe said. … The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Justice Department probe could last for months, if not longer. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. Jim Gipson, a spokesman for Chesapeake, said the company declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Encana said the company had no comment. The federal government’s probe adds more scrutiny to the two energy companies. Last week, the antitrust division of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office and Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, which oversees state land auctions, also opened investigations into the allegations in the report, according to three sources familiar with the matter. “Our commitment is to ensure the integrity of the auction process and to receiving fair market value for public land,” said Michigan DNR spokesman Ed Golder. Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, declined to comment. Congress has also expressed interest in learning more about Chesapeake and Encana’s land dealings.

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