Report alleges Chesapeake Encana combined to supress land prices

Report alleges Chesapeake Encana combined to supress land prices by Brian Grow, Joshua Schneyer and Janet Roberts, June 25, 2012, Reuters
That exchange – and a dozen other e-mails reviewed by Reuters – could provide evidence that the two companies violated federal and state laws by seeking to keep land prices down, antitrust lawyers said. … In response to questions from Reuters, Encana said it was undertaking an internal investigation, saying it “is committed to conducting its business in an ethical and legal way.” … Private industry cartels are forbidden in the United States, where price-fixing between competitors is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Companies can be fined up to $100-million and individuals up to $1-million for each offense. Victims can also seek triple the amount of damages. Antitrust lawyers said the fact that the companies discussed a formal joint venture wouldn’t dispel legal concerns. “Nothing in the documents suggests any benefit to the joint venture other than making the price fall,” said Darren Bush, a former attorney in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and a law professor at the University of Houston. “If it has no other purpose, then it’s just a shell and doesn’t change the liability for illegal conduct.”

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