BP charged with rigging propane market

24-08-2006

BP has been charged with cornering the propane market and illegally inflating prices by the US energy regulator.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) alleges BP Products North America manipulated its position to secure higher prices in February 2004 in the TET physical propane sector.

It also charges BP tried to manipulate prices in April 2003.

The CFTC filed its lawsuit in Chicago against Mark Radley, a former trading manager of natural gas liquids, and five other workers.

It is alleged workers at BP Products North America gained at least $20 million (£11 million) through their activities.

Gregory Mocek, CFTC’s director of enforcement, said the actions had undermined the market’s integrity and could have repercussions for commercial market players as well as retail consumers.

Mr Mocek said: "BP cornered the market on physical propane. They used their financial power to drive up prices."

BP has rejected the allegations and vowed to fight the case.

The US Justice Department said one trader Dennis Abbott pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in a parallel criminal case.

Mr Abbott faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to the Justice Department.

BP is the largest supplier of natural gas liquids in the US.



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