Just 24 hours after being indicted on federal antitrust charges, former chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corporation Aubrey McClendon was killed in a fiery single car crash on Wednesday.
McClendon, 56, was indicted on Tuesday. He was accused of conspiring to violate federal antitrust law by “rigging bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma” when he ran Chesapeake Energy Company.
However, he issued a statement that he would fight the charges against him.
“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.”
McClendon’s attorneys then responded to his statement:
“The Justice Department has taken business practices well-known in the Oklahoma and American energy industries that were intended to, and did in fact, enhance competition and lower energy costs and twisted these business practices to allege an antitrust violation that did not occur. In response to criticism of their past charging practices and in the name of a new policy to be tough on individuals, the prosecutors have wrongfully singled out Aubrey McClendon and have wrongly charged an innocent man. A charge is one thing. Proving the case is another. Starting today, Aubrey gets his day in court where we will show that this prosecutorial overreach was completely unjustified.”
One day later McClendon was dead.
Chesapeake Energy released the following statement regarding McClendon’s death.
“Aubrey’s tremendous leadership, vision, and passion for the energy industry had an impact on the community, the country, and the world. We are tremendously proud of his legacy and will continue to work hard to live up to the unmatched standards he set for excellence and integrity,” the company said in a statement.
Chesapeake said in a statement that it is “deeply saddened by the news” and its “thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family during this difficult time.”
Oklahoma City Police Department held a news conference on Wednesday following the crash.
Capt. Paco Balderrama says police are still investigating the crash, but added that he was traveling at a “high rate of speed,” well over the posted speed limit.
Balderrama says McClendon died instantly from the crash. After that, the 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.”
What I find interesting is that this is a single car crash and the car bursts into flames. How often does this actually occur, especially a 2013 Chevy Tahoe? Frankly, when I heard the story, I couldn’t help recall that is sounds eerily similar to the car crash of Michael Hastings, who had been working on the Bowe Bergdahl story just before his untimely death. What do you think?