Chesapeake Energy sues Aubrey McClendon, Alleges Theft of Confidential Data

Feb 18 2015 | 6:18pm ET

Chesapeake Energy has sued its founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon. The energy giant alleges that its former boss stole confidential company information in his final months and used it to launch his own company.

The company says that McClendon asked his personal assistant to print out a company map of unleased acreage in the Utica Shale formation, in addition to other propreitary information. According to reports, in his final days, McClendon emailed himself data that he later used to attract investors to his new company.

“During this same period of time, while McClendon was serving as director and CEO of Chesapeake and while he was secretly stealing Chesapeake’s trade secrets, McClendon was also forming his own new companies, and soliciting investors for them, to compete with Chesapeake,” the company said in a lawsuit.

But McClendon, who now runs American Energy Partners, claims he had a right to use the information. The former CEO says that the 20 terabytes of data he obtained was legitimate under a separation agreement that he had with the company.

"It is beyond belief that the company that I co-founded 25 years ago and where I worked tirelessly to build it into one of America’s largest and most successful oil and gas producers has now decided to add insult to injury almost two years to the day after my resignation by wrongly accusing me of misappropriating information,” McClendon said in a statement.

In 2013, McClendon stepped down from his CEO post after investigations revealed he'd failed to disclose $1.55 billion in personal loans he'd accepted from a Chesapeake financier. In addition, he assisted a hedge fund in trading in both oil and natural gas. That fund, Heritage Management Company, was founded by McClendon and Tom Ward, a Chesapeake co-founder. 

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