SEC Begins 'Informal Inquiry' into Chesapeake Energy

Probe comes after reports that CEO Aubrey McClendon used a company well program to secure more than $1 billion in loans.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (IW 500/104) said Thursday the Securities and Exchange Commission has requested the company and its Chairman and CEO Aubrey McClendon retain certain documents as part of an informal inquiry.

The company said the SEC noted in its request, which it received Wednesday, that the inquiry should not be interpreted as an indication that a federal securities law violation has occurred.

McClendon has been under scrutiny after media reports that he used his stake in wells the company owns to secure $1.1 billion in loans over the past three years.

On Monday, the company announced McClendon would step down as board chairman and be replaced with someone who has no previous "substantive" relationship with Chesapeake.

The company also said McClendon will end his participation in the well program that he allegedly used to secure the loans 18 months early. McClendon will not receive in connection with the program's early termination, the company said.

Chesapeake, the nation's second-largest producer of natural gas, reported Tuesday a first-quarter net loss of $28 million compared with a year-earlier loss of $162 million.

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