The co-conspirator behind late oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon’s alleged conspiracy to rig crude oil prices was allegedly Tom Ward, the former head of natural gas producer SandRidge Energy Inc., according to people familiar with the indictment.
McClendon died in a car wreck in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Wednesday morning, hours after the Department of Justice indicted him on charges of colluding with what sources now believe was SandRidge Energy to keep oil and gas bid prices at artificially low levels from 2007 to 2012 to push competitors out of the market.
Ward co-founded Chesapeake Energy alongside McClendon in 1989. He left Chesapeake and founded Oklahoma City-based SandRidge in 2006, which eventually turned into a $10 billion enterprise under his tutelage. But he was eventually fired “without cause” from SandRidge in 2013 after a review was conducted following investors questioning transactions Ward and his family made with the company.
Ward then used his own capital to form Tapstone Energy LLC in 2013.
SandRidge officials have not responded to reporters or issued statements addressing the allegations made against Ward, the company’s one time chief operating officer. SandRidge acknowledged in early 2014 that it received a subpoena from the Justice Department associated with antitrust violations.
McClendon was terminated from Chesapeake in 2013, but he continued to receive an annual salary of $975,000 per year — or nearly $60,000 a month. He also scored a $1.95 million yearly bonus for another four years, according to financial statements disclosed by Chesapeake.
Prior to his death, McClendon struck a defiant tone. “The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented,” he said in a statement shortly after being indicted. “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.”
Police are still investigating the wreck, but evidence suggests the McClendon was driving at a “high rate of speed,” Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. The pioneer of the natural gas boom died instantly, he added.
Posted by The Daily Caller.