With an eye on rapidly rising gasoline prices, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday announced the formation of the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group as part of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to focus specifically on fraud in energy markets.
The group "will monitor oil and gas markets for potential violations of criminal or civil laws to safeguard against unlawful consumer harm," Holder said. It will include representatives from the Department of Justice, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Departments of Agriculture and Energy.
"Rapidly rising gasoline prices are pinching the pockets of consumers across the country," Holder said. "We will be vigilant in monitoring the oil and gas markets for any wrongdoing so that consumers can be confident they are not paying higher prices as a result of illegal activity. If illegal conduct is responsible for increasing gas prices, state and federal authorities should take swift action."
The Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group will explore whether there is any evidence of manipulation of oil and gas prices, collusion, fraud, or misrepresentations at the retail or wholesale levels that violates state or federal laws and harms consumers or the federal government as a purchaser of oil and gas. It also will evaluate developments in commodities markets and examine investor practices, supply and demand factors and the role of speculators and index traders in oil futures markets.
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