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US/Canada: Michigan settles half of oil land leasing collusion case

 |  May 5, 2014

Just weeks after the US Department of Justice closed its own investigation into the matter without bringing charges, Michigan prosecutors have reportedly settled with one of two oil companies accused of violating antitrust law over land-leasing agreements.

According to reports, Canada-headquartered oil firm Encana has settled with Michigan, where Chesapeake continues to fight the case. The companies were suspected of colluding to divide up bidding responsibilities in nine Michigan counties before a 2010 land auction, reports say.

A hearing began Monday but reports say Encana has decided to settled for $5 million with state prosecutors. The deal could clear the firm of criminal charges. Chesapeake said at the hearing, however, it would continue to fight the allegations.

This is not the first time the companies have run into antitrust trouble. Chesapeake, the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer, and Encana fixes gas and oil lease prices to artificially low amounts in 2010; the companies were each charged with one count of antitrust violations “relating to a contract or conspiracy in restraint of commerce,” reports say, and each one count of attempted antitrust violations.

The companies announced late last month that the DOJ had closed its own investigation into allegations of anticompetitive behavior between the two firms, and did not bring charges against the companies. The federal regulator announced that some aspects of their probe of the oil firms remain open, however.

Full content: Reuters

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