CFTC: record levels of crime in energy markets

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NEW YORK - The past five years have seen unprecedented levels of misconduct in the US energy markets, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates the sector.

The CFTC said that, since the end of 2002, it had brought charges against 38 companies and 25 individuals for manipulation, false reporting and violations of trading rules in the energy markets, and had levied a total of $308 million in penalties. Dozens more firms and individuals are still under investigation for similar acts, the commission added.

As well as high-profile cases such as Connecticut-based Amaranth Advisors, the collapsed energy hedge fund now accused of attempted market manipulation, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed 41 new actions this year, and collected $540 million in penalties and restitutions from across the industry. The SEC filed against Amaranth on September 28, arguing that the fund should not be allowed to avoid investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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