- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) - Representatives of two energy companies that are accused of colluding to keep bids low on oil and gas leases have appeared in a northern Michigan court to face criminal charges.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced March 5 that he filed antitrust charges against Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Encana Corp.

The companies appeared Wednesday for arraignment before Cheboygan District Court Judge Maria Barton. The judge set $20,000 bonds for each company and scheduled a probable-cause hearing for May 5-8.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake and Calgary, Alberta-based Encana have denied that they colluded on the bids in 2010 and say they’ll fight the charges.

The charges carry a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment for individuals and a fine of up to $1 million for corporations.