Chesapeake probe finds no "intentional" CEO misconduct

Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:49pm EST
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By Anna Driver and Brian Grow

(Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Wednesday its internal investigation of the financial dealings of outgoing chief executive Aubrey McClendon found no "intentional" wrongdoing.

The company did not say how it reached its conclusions and did not release a full report of its investigation, and state and federal investigations of the company continue.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is examining McClendon's financial transactions, while the Department of Justice and the attorney general in Michigan are investigating whether Chesapeake violated antitrust laws.

Authorities and analysts viewed Chesapeake's self-exoneration with skepticism.

"The importance of independent - rather than internal - investigations cannot be emphasized enough in a case involving antitrust bid-rigging allegations," said a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. "Our thorough, independent investigation into these serious allegations will continue."

A series of Reuters investigations last year triggered civil and criminal probes into the second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas. Big shareholders Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management took control of the board in June after McClendon was stripped of the chairmanship of the company he co-founded in 1989.

Representatives for the Department of Justice were not immediately available to comment.

Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware said the company still faces shareholder litigation as well as government probes.   Continued...

Chief Executive Officer, Chairman, and Co-founder of Chesapeake Energy Corporation Aubrey McClendon walks through the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner