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Tuesday, May 31st

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Notorious Coal Baron Don Blankenship Sentenced to a Year in Prison

Don BlankenshipA federal judge in West Virginia sentenced former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to a year in prison on Wednesday for conspiring to commit mine safety violations at his company's Upper Big Branch mine during a period leading up to the explosion there that left 29 miners dead in 2010.

Blankenship was convicted of the misdemeanor charge in December, but the conviction was explicitly not linked to the Upper Big Branch disaster itself and Blankenship's attorney worked hard to ensure the accident was hardly mentioned during the trial.

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Big Banks Aided Firm At Center Of International Bribery Scandal

Big BanksNo business can operate without bankers — not even the bribery business.

British financial giant HSBC and American bailout kingpin Citibank processed transactions, managed money and vouched for Unaoil, a once-obscure firm that is now at the center of a massive international corruption scandal. Police raided Unaoil’s Monaco offices and interviewed its executives on Thursday, a day after The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media first exposed the company’s practices. Law enforcement agencies in at least four nations are involved in a wide-ranging probe of the company and its partners.

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U.S. Oil Industry Giant Paid Millions To A Company At The Center Of Huge Corruption Scandal

KBRThe American engineering and construction firm KBR hired Unaoil — an obscure Monaco-based company now involved in a massive international bribery scandal — to help it win oil and gas contracts in Kazakhstan. KBR, which until 2007 was part of the oilfield services giant Halliburton, paid Unaoil millions of dollars from 2004 until at least 2009, according to thousands of internal documents obtained by The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media.

Halliburton and KBR have been in trouble for bribery in the past. After a years-long federal investigation, KBR pleaded guilty in 2009 to multiple criminal counts of violating U.S. foreign corruption laws by bribing Nigerian officials. KBR agreed to pay $402 million as part of a settlement. Halliburton and KBR also paid $177 million to settle SEC civil charges related to the same conduct. Three years later, Albert “Jack” Stanley, KBR’s former CEO, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for his role in the scandal. As part of the deal with the Justice Department, KBR agreed to waive many of its legal rights if it was caught violating bribery laws again.

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Israel's Supreme Court shoots down gas deal

Israeli SC nixes gas dealIsrael's Supreme Court on Sunday overturned the government's landmark deal to begin pumping natural gas, handing a painful blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a consortium of energy companies.

The decision gave parliament a year to amend the plan or the framework will be canceled. It cited a clause in the deal that would prevent Israel from making significant regulatory changes for the next 10 years as reason for scuttling it. It argued the clause restricted parliament's powers.

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Refugees lose hope as more countries shut borders

Refgugees face more closed bordersThe Hungarian government has announced the deployment of an additional 1,500 troops and police officers on its border with Serbia, as it extended a nationwide "state of emergency" in response to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.

Interior Minister Sandor Pinter made the announcement during a press conference in Hungary's capital Budapest on Wednesday.

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For The First Time, Solar Will Be The Top New Source Of Energy This Year

solar energyFor the first time ever utility-scale solar projects will add more new capacity to the nation’s grid than any other industry this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Tuesday.

Natural gas and wind energy follow somewhat closely, according to the EIA’s monthly report, which notes that solar, gas and wind energy will make up 93 percent of all new energy. Solar projects will generate about 9.5 gigawatts of new energy. Natural gas, meanwhile, will add 8 gigawatts while wind is poised to create 6.8 gigawatts.

One gigawatt is enough energy to power about 700,000 average homes.

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Former Chesapeake CEO McClendon charged with bid-rigging of land leases

Aubrew McClendonAubrey McClendon, former chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.N) and a legend in the U.S. energy industry, was charged on Tuesday with conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in Oklahoma, the Justice Department said.

The indictment follows a nearly four-year federal antitrust probe that began after a 2012 Reuters investigation found that Chesapeake had discussed with a rival how to suppress land lease prices in Michigan during a shale-drilling boom. Although the Michigan case was subsequently closed, investigators uncovered evidence of alleged bid-rigging in Oklahoma. (reut.rs/1TPxUVy)

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