Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Dies In Single-Car Crash Day After Indictment

Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon died in a car accident in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, one day after he was indicted on charges of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases.

Police said 56-year-old McClendon was the only occupant in the SUV, which hit a concrete bridge pillar shortly after 9am, and that it is too early to tell if the collision was intentional.

“He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” said an Oklahoma City Police spokesperson . “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.”

One of the pioneers of the US’s shale oil boom, McClendon was once one of the US’s highest paid CEOs, receiving a pay package of $112m in 2012, then the highest CEO salary at any S&P 500 company.

On Tuesday the Justice Department accused McClendon, a part-owner of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, of rigging bids for oil and gas land leases between 2007 and 2012, the first executive to be charged in an ongoing investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the oil and natural gas industry.

According to the Justice Department, McClendon was the mastermind behind a scheme where companies decided who would win leases. The winning bidder would then hand an interest in the leases to the “losing” company.

“McClendon instructed his subordinates to execute the conspiratorial agreement, which included, among other things, withdrawing bids for certain leases and agreeing on the allocation of interests in the leases between the conspiring companies,” the department said in a statement.

“Executives who abuse their positions as leaders of major corporations to organize criminal activity must be held accountable for their actions,” said assistant attorney general Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

McClendon – who faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $1m fine – denied wrongdoing. “The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented,” he said in a statement. “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.”

The executive stepped down from Chesapeake Energy in 2013 after a boardroom row.

“Chesapeake is deeply saddened by the news that we have heard today and our thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family during this difficult time,” a Chesapeake spokesman said in a statement. – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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