Gunnison Energy and SG Interests Pay $550,000 to Settle Whistleblower Action
The Department of Justice announced that Gunnison Energy Corporation (“GEC”), an affiliate of Oxbow Corporation, and SG Interests I Ltd. and SG Interests VII Ltd. (collectively “SGI”) have agreed to settle antitrust and False Claims Act allegations for $550,000, with each firm to pay $275,000. The claims relate to an alleged agreement by the companies not to compete in bidding for four natural gas leases sold at auction by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”).
According to the Justice Department, the investigation resulted from a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by whistleblower Anthony Gale. The federal government partially intervened in the whistleblower’s suit.
The BLM issues leases for oil and gas exploration on land owned or controlled by the federal government. In order to obtain fair and competitive prices for its leases, BLM auctions off the leases to the highest bidder. The winning bidder is required to certify that its bid was not the product of collusion with another bidder.
According to the qui tam complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, GEC and SGI were separately developing natural gas resources in Western Colorado. The Complaint alleges that in 2005, GEC and SGI agreed, in writing, that only SGI would bid at the BLM auctions and then assign an interest in all of the acquired leases to GEC. The government claims that the agreement was not part of any procompetitive or efficiency-enhancing collaboration. The government also claims it would have received more revenue for the four leases if GEC and SCI had competed at the auctions.
If you have any firsthand knowledge, information, or evidence related to any federal, state, county or city government fraud, you should speak with an experienced qui tam lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
If you have a claim, contact the Florida whistleblower attorneys at Rabin Kammerer Johnson for a free and confidential consultation by calling toll free at 877.915.4040.