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June 6, 2014

Michigan charges Chesapeake in land leasing case

LANSING, Mich. — Charges have been filed by Michigan against an Oklahoma-based energy company in what authorities say was a land-leasing scheme.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday said he charged Chesapeake Energy Corp. with conducting criminal enterprises and false pretenses.

Schuette’s complaint in Cheboygan District Court said land options in northern Michigan were obtained to keep competing companies from leasing. The leases later were canceled when competition for land ended.

A June 25 arraignment is scheduled.

Chesapeake spokesman Gordon Pennoyer said the company believes the charges are without merit and it “will vigorously contest” the allegations.

Schuette charged Chesapeake and Encana Corp. in March with violating Michigan antitrust laws in a 2010 auction. He said collusion is suspected of depressing the per-acre cost of leases from $1,510 to under $40.

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