Settlement erases some of Aubrey McClendon estate debts

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Chesapeake Energy Corp. withdrew its claim for more than $455 million against the estate of late Oklahoma City energy magnate Aubrey McClendon as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that alleged McClendon had stolen trade secrets when he left Chesapeake in 2013.

Under the deal, Chesapeake stopped its effort to collect undisclosed compensation and benefits previously paid to McClendon and agreed to pay $3.5 million for legal fees and other services. His estate waived any claim to unpaid compensation and rights to benefits that include stock and use of a corporate jet.

An Oklahoma City probate judge signed off the deal Thursday.

He died in a 2016 vehicle crash after a federal grand jury indicted him for allegedly conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases.

Several other claims remain against McClendon’s estate. Here’s a look at his estate and issues surrounding it:

The agreement settled Chesapeake’s 2015 lawsuit against McClendon, who left the company he founded over differences with a new board of directors.

The lawsuit alleged he used stolen trade secrets to benefit a new company he formed, American Energy Partners LP.

During a less than 15-minute hearing, an attorney for the estate, Amy Sine, outlined the agreement. Chesapeake attorney Murray Abowitz expressed his support.

“I have read the order and I endorse it,” Abowitz said.

Both Sine and Abowitz later declined comment on the case.

Numerous claims against the estate remain. The largest is a $464.3 million claim by Williams Trust, National Association, for loans secured by McClendon. Court documents show an undisclosed amount of the trust’s claim was rejected by the executor of McClendon’s estate, Tom Blalock, in August.

HOW MUCH IS HE WORTH?

Laura Zwicker, an estate-planning attorney and partner at Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles, who is not associated with any of the claims against the estate but has followed the matter, said McClendon was once estimated to have a net worth of more than $1 billion. But claims by creditors may wipe that out, Zwicker said.

“His obligations may be over a billion (dollars), so his net worth may be close to zero,” Zwicker said.

Many of the details of the claims are not known, either filed under seal or redacted from court filings.

McClendon owned about 20 percent of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, an asset creditors have said may be among his most valuable. His share would be worth about $200 million, based on a Forbes estimate in February that the team is worth $1.025 billion.

Creditors, including Wilmington Trust, expressed concern during a May 2016 hearing that McClendon’s ownership stake could be sold to a family member at less than market value, according to a court transcript obtained by The Oklahoman.

Estate attorney Martin Stringer said then that the Thunder interest was not for sale.

An attorney for McClendon’s widow and adult children did not return a call seeking comment.

McClendon used his stake in the Thunder to secure a loan from Oaktree Capital Management, which filed a claim for $87 million. Oaktree laid claim to the Thunder ownership until the sale of certain oil and gas leases satisfied the claim.

McClendon was known as a generous supporter of various charitable organizations and many of their claims have been rejected, including the Boy Scouts of America and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

The Boy Scouts said it would not pursue its claim while the Reagan Foundation remains a party to the probate case.

Also, Duke University filed a claim in August for $9.9 million McClendon had pledged to various projects at his alma mater, but then withdrew it.

“Charities sort of need to rely on the pledges their donors make. On the other hand, when charities go into court when someone dies to enforce a pledge … people view it more negatively than Oaktree coming in and saying we loaned money to you and we want our money back,” Zwicker said.

McClendon, 56, crashed into a concrete bridge embankment at nearly 89 mph in March 2016, a day after being indicted by a grand jury.

Investigators found that McClendon drove straight into a wall without correcting, but there was no conclusive evidence that he intentionally drove into the wall, according to Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama. McClendon left nothing behind that could be construed as a suicide note, Balderrama said.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


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American Express Discount Rate & Merchant Account

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In the past, American Express was the most expensive credit card to accept; a reputation that it hasn't shaken despite introducing a new pricing structure to bring costs more in line with other card brands. There's a lot of confusion of American Express discount rates, pricing models, and settlement. We'll untangle it in this article.

For the most up-to-date American Express pricing, use CardFellow's quote comparison tool.

Amex technically has three pricing models: ESA, One Point, and OptBlue. OptBlue is the newest, and the most similar to the other card brands' models.

ESA is American Express' direct processing program, meaning a business will have an account directly with American Express, and Amex will settle the transactions. Businesses that process $1 million or more per year with American Express must have a direct account - you can't go through your processor once you're at that volume.

One Point (also referred to as American Express Full Service by First Data) is a program offered by American Express that makes it possible for participating processor to streamline the authorization, settlement and reporting of American Express processing volume. The main advantages to American Express One Point are faster settlement of American Express transactions and reporting that is easier to reconcile.

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For the purposes of understanding American Express costs, the link below will provide more extensive detail on the OptBlue program, while this article will provide information about ESA, One Point, and American Express' network and structure in general. The information relevant to you will depend on which pricing model your processor uses.

Zwicker and associates american express settlement Related Article: American Express OptBlue.

American Express operates on a closed loop network. This means that American Express issues credit cards directly to its cardholders, and opens merchant accounts directly for business that accept its cards.

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On One Point, American Express sets its own discount rates which are exactly the same for all credit card processors. However, this may be different for OptBlue, and it's important to know which pricing model your processor uses.

American Express discount rates are based largely on a business's merchant category code (MCC). Unlike Visa and MasterCard interchange fees, American Express discount rates have relatively few qualification factors.

American Express discount rates for retail stores and restaurants will downgrade (meaning the rate increases) if a transaction is keyed-in rather than swiping a card, but most rates are the same regardless of transaction method.

American Express does not charge a credit card transaction fee and a discount rate for every industry category. Many rates consist of a percentage-base charge (discount rate) without a transaction fee (flat dollar amount, i.e. $0.10).

However, virtually all credit card processing services will charge a fee to process American Express transactions through their network. So, even if American Express does not charge a transaction fee directly, a business will inevitably have to pay a transaction fee to its credit card processor for processing American Express transactions.

The following table outlines basic American Express discount rates on the One Point model. Keep in mind that discount rates are subject to change, and that OptBlue rates will not be the same.


Hello, Ive been sued by Zwicker and Associates for a discover

I've been sued by Zwicker.

I've been sued by Zwicker and Associates for a discover card I didn't pay. The debt is mine, but I didn't have the money to settle until now. I don't know whether I should contact a lawyer to negotiate with Zwicker or call Zwicker directly. I've been advised to ask them for a stipulation of judgement so i can either pay them off completely or do monthly payments.

I am supposed to go to court on September 17th - but i want to settle this before then.

Hello - I owe $5200

Sorry - the exact amount owed is $4299.00. (i was reading the wrong amount).

I can pay $3500.00.

not married, i don't own any real estate - i have one other debt that I pay a monthly payment on (Citicard originally, now CACH owns the debt, I pay $200 a month for a $8k debt). I would prefer not to go to bankruptcy as I do owe this money and want to make it right - So i want to settle with Zwicker and then save again to settle with CACH if possible.

So, what is the process of me calling Zwicker? Do I need to say anything specific? Initially, legal aide answered the summons for me saying we neither denied or confirmed it was my debt (she said to buy time).

Usually Discover's attorney can accept up to 50% of the outstanding debt without asking them for their consent.

So, I would start with that - that you are going to get a loan from your parents or family member to pay off this loan.

If they won't accept that, which is doubtful because they usually will, then ask for a payment plan as previously suggested to you with a stipulation of judgment.

Then state if over the $3,500, that is the most you can borrow from your family member - they should then agree to that amount.

Rating REQUIRED: Please don't forget to rate my answer 3 or higher so that I receive credit for assisting you today. Need more help? Reply below with more questions.

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How to settle on an American express card with Zwicker and Associates

Zwicker and associates american express settlement

I've settled my Chase and Advanta Cards at 35% after only three - four months on non-payment. My american express went to Zwicker and associates - I have been negotiating with them - but can't get them past 55% and now they tell me they are filing suit - last missed payment was Nov 08 - and it's march 09. Are they lying to me? I know it's illegal - but what does everything think? Also has anyone settled for less than 55% with them - I hate to pay them that much when everyone else got 35% and were actually not bad to work with.