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Oil Traders Confirm Price Fixing

“The process for setting benchmark oil prices has never been particularly transparent, depending as it does on self-reporting by traders of offer and sale prices to energy pricing agencies like Platts, a division of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. (NYSE: MHFI). Platts, which depends on the truthfulness of traders, then

A report in today’s Wall Street Journal indicates that it ought to be fairly easy for the European Commission (EC) to substantiate charges of price fixing in the world’s oil markets. Last month the EC raided the offices of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A), BP PLC (NYSE: BP), Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO) and Platts to collect information on the charges. Italian oil major Eni SpA (NYSE: E) was also asked to provide information, but was not included in the raids.

One trader told the WSJ how the fiddling works. He offers to sell a small quantity of oil at a loss, driving down the price that he reports to the pricing agency. Once the lower benchmark price is published, he then buys larger quantities at the lower price.

Traders do not believe the practice is illegal…”

Full article

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