The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has intervened in former Amaranth gas trader Brian Hunter's appeal of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order fining him $30 million for allegedly manipulating the gas futures market. In the briefing filed in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the CFTC said it intervened in the case because "FERC's assertion of jurisdiction directly conflicts with the express statutory grant of exclusive jurisdiction to the CFTC over futures trading on futures exchanges." The two federal regulatory agencies have butted heads over the issue of whether FERC has jurisdiction in cases where the manipulation of natural gas futures trades subsequently influences the price of physical gas transactions (see NGI, Sept. 17, 2007). Both Hunter and the CFTC argue that FERC lacks jurisdiction in these cases. However in intervening in the case, the CFTC is not defending Hunter's alleged activities in the futures market. In mid-2007, the CFTC brought its own action against Amaranth and Hunter for attempted gas futures market manipulation one day before FERC brought its enforcement action (see NGI, July 30, 2007). The Amaranth hedge fund was liquidated in late 2006 after losing $6 billion on natural gas trades. FERC fined Hunter $30 million in April 2011.
Kurt Mix, a 50-year-old former engineer for BP plc, faces up to 20 years in prison and heavy fines after the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged him with two counts of obstructing justice for allegedly destroying evidence intentionally that was related to the Macondo well blowout in April 2010. The criminal complaint, unsealed on April 24 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, claims Mix deleted "records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion." The affidavit claims that BP sent "numerous notices" to Mix requiring him to retain all information concerning Macondo, including text messages from his phone. BP said it is cooperating with the DOJ and has "undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence."
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