EU Extends Investigation of Energy Price Manipulation

European Union (EU) authorities are reported to have widened their recently-launched investigation of alleged energy price manipulation, issuing requests for pricing information to commodity trading firms including Glencore Xstrata, Vitol Group, and Gunvor Group.

According to reports, the companies received written questionnaires with general questions about fuel pricing works. The move follows the unannounced inspections of oil groups BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil carried out earlier this month by
European antitrust regulators
, who also investigated publisher Platts, a division of McGraw-Hill Financial, which publishes prices for a range of fuel products widely used as standard measures.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body of the EU, declined to identify which companies were under investigation but last week said in a statement that it “has concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products.”

The EU investigation follows a report issued the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), an umbrella group for regulators, which questioned the transparency of fuel pricing benchmarks and suggested that price reporting agencies such as Platts should be subject to government oversight. Although IOSCO stopped short of recommending regulation, it said pricing indices could be vulnerable to manipulation.

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