Energy Developers Settle Antitrust and False Claims Act Claims
Gunnison Energy Corporation and SG Interests settled a series of claims under the federal antitrust statutes and the false claims act related to their agreement not to compete in bidding for natural gas leases that the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management sold at auction. The lawsuits and settlement resulted from a whistleblower who filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act. The government charged the two companies with entering into a written agreement whereby only one would bid for government-auctioned leases and would then assign rights to the other. This allowed the companies to pay less than they would have had they engaged in competitive bidding. The False Claims Act violations were based on false information provided to the government as a result of the bidding process. This matter was the first government lawsuit to challenge an anticompetitive bidding agreement for the Bureau of Land Management.
The press release for this action may be found here: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/February/12-at-219.html