Cantwell Statement on CFTC Lawsuit Against Alleged Oil Market Manipulators

Cantwell: ‘We Expect the CFTC to be Aggressive in Policing These Markets and Standing up for Consumers’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement in response to news on Tuesday of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) lawsuit against two companies that allegedly profited off of illegal oil market manipulation that artificially increased the price of gas in 2008.

“This is exactly what we expect the CFTC to be doing,” said Senator Cantwell.“Consumers have felt the impact of manipulation we’ve seen in the electricity, natural gas and oil markets. I expect the CFTC to be aggressive in policing these markets and standing up for consumers who are getting gouged at the pump.”

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the CFTC charged Parnon Energy and Arcadia with attempting to create "artificial spread prices" in the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) swaps trade. The CFTC lawsuit states that these energy companies "unlawfully manipulated and attempted to manipulate the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) WTI financial contract prices."

On March 25th, Cantwell sent a bipartisan letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling for an investigation into any links between rising gas prices and a sharp increase in wholesale oil markets. In August 2009, the FTC finalized its Petroleum Market Manipulation Rule, which was promulgated in compliance with legislation Cantwell authored in 2005 and successfully shepherded into law in 2007, making it a crime to manipulate wholesale oil markets. She is now calling on the consumer protection agency to use its new authority to meet their responsibility to protect consumers.