Chesapeake Energy filed suit Tuesday against American Energy Partners for allegedly taking trade secrets from the company when founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon resigned from Chesapeake in 2013.
Oklahoma-based Chesapeake alleges that McClendon asked his assistant to print out a company map of unleased acres in Ohio’s Utica shale play and also took propriety information to win investors for American Energy Partners.
The suit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, claims McClendon “misappropriated highly sensitive trade secrets from Chesapeake” and “subsequently used these trade secrets for the benefit of” American Energy Partners.
McClendon is not directly named in the suit due to a separation agreement with Chesapeake that requires arbitration for disputes.
Chesapeake said it uncovered the alleged theft during a forensic analysis of McClendon’s Chesapeake email account.
McClendon, 55, called the suit baseless and said he had “the right to use and own this information” under his employment agreement with the company, Reuters said.
American Energy-Utica said the allegations are “meritless.”
A 2012 Reuters investigation found that McClendon did not publicly disclose $1.55 billion in personal loans he accepted from a major backer of Chesapeake and collaborated with a rival firm to hold down land prices in a prospective oil and gas play in Michigan.
McClendon left Chesapeake in January 2013 after an internal company investigation found he did not commit any “intentional” wrongdoing.
In September an Oklahoma judge said Chesapeake Energy will face a trial for one charge of felony racketeering and 20 counts of using false pretenses related to its land leasing practices in 2010.