The company also announced that the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors has completed its previously-announced independent investigation, which was prompted by allegations of improper related-party transactions in oil and gas properties in the Mississippian play. The four-month independent investigation was conducted by Mayer Brown LLP, an internationally recognized law firm, and included the review of hundreds of thousands of documents and the interview of more than 40 persons. After reviewing the facts developed during the Audit Committee's investigation, the non-employee members of the Board unanimously determined that such did not merit a termination for cause. The termination of Ward's employment, which reflects the Board's decision that new leadership is desirable at this time, will accordingly be "without cause" under the terms of his employment agreement. He will receive the severance package provided for under the terms of his employment agreement, which consists of: the vesting of 6,331,475 shares of previously granted restricted stock; a lump sum cash payment of $53.5 million, comprised of three times the average of his last three annual bonuses, his accrued vacation, and the value of the restricted stock that Ward would have received over the next three years if his employment with the company had continued; and his current base salary to be paid for a period of 36 months.Bennett commented, "As we begin a new chapter in the company's history, we are focused on keeping our talented team motivated, enhancing our communications, and delivering on expectations by efficiently executing on our assets. We are confident this will result in value creation for all stakeholders, including our stockholders, employees and the communities in which we operate."
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