(Reuters) — Aubrey McClendon, a brash risk-taker who led Chesapeake Energy Corp to become one of the world’s biggest natural gas producers, died in a single-car crash on Wednesday, a day after being charged with breaking federal antitrust laws, police said. He was 56.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that McClendon had been indicted for allegedly colluding to rig bids for oil and gas acreage while he was at Chesapeake, a central player in the U.S. fracking revolution of the past decade. He denied the charges.
Police said they were investigating the cause of the crash, which occurred when McClendon was driving his 2013 Chevy Tahoe on a sparsely populated, two-lane road.
The crash occurred about 8 miles (13 km) from American Energy Partners, which McClendon had founded and where he was the chairman and chief executive. He was not wearing a seat belt.
McClendon, who was revered in oil and gas circles as a visionary, resigned from Chesapeake in 2013 after a corporate governance crisis and investor concerns over his heavy spending.
After leaving Chesapeake, McClendon went on to start American Energy Partners and, with the help of private equity funds, made billions of dollars in bets on vast tracts of oil and gas land around the United States and Australia.
Tuesday’s indictment followed a nearly four-year federal antitrust probe that began after a 2012 Reuters investigation found that Chesapeake had discussed with a rival how to suppress land lease prices in Michigan during a shale-drilling boom. Although the Michigan case was subsequently closed, investigators uncovered evidence of alleged bid-rigging in Oklahoma. (reut.rs/1TPxUVy)