The lawyer Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s audit committee hired to investigate possible conflicts of interest in its chief executive’s loans has a record of managing probes with minimum publicity about himself or his client.
Craig Weinstock, a Houston-based attorney with Locke Lord LLP, has handled more than a dozen internal investigations of alleged corporate malfeasance since 2002, including one for a company run by Chesapeake’s lead director Merrill A. “Pete” Miller Jr., a member of the audit committee, a person familiar with Weinstock’s work said.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation after the company disclosed more than $800 million in loans made to its chief executive, with some involving company financiers. Weinstock tends to resolve such matters with little fanfare, keeping his own role a secret in most cases, according to a rival Houston lawyer.
“He said his reports are submitted to the government or the board, and no one hears of it,” said Lance Lubel, a Houston-based plaintiffs’ lawyer who has litigated cases against Weinstock.
Weinstock, 54, has handled internal reviews for other oil and gas companies, such as Nabors Industries Ltd., according to Lubel. The Vanderbilt University law graduate represented Nabors in a 2006-2007 probe of allegations that the oil-drilling company may have backdated stock options for executives, according to the person familiar with Weinstock’s work.
The SEC announced in May 2007 that it had ended its review of Nabors’s stock-option practices without penalizing the company, according to a regulatory filing. Laura Doerre, a spokeswoman for the Hamilton, Bermuda-based energy company, declined to comment on Weinstock’s work.Read the rest of the article here.
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