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CFTC Charges Former Western Gas Trader With Attempting to Manipulate Prices

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced last Thursday it was filing of a civil injunctive action against a former director of marketing at Western Gas Resources Inc. for pressuring subordinates to report false price information to a price index publisher over almost a year between April 2000 to February 2001.

The CFTC complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, alleges Andrew Richmond in his position a director of trading for the Rocky Mountains, Midcontinent and Texas region, pressured at least two of the traders he supervised to report false price information to Gas Daily for points at which they were doing spread trades for Western Gas.

"If the defendant's attempted manipulation of the price of natural gas had been successful, it could have affected the price of natural gas, a commodity in interstate commerce, and the price of futures and options contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange," which is a self-regulated organization (SRO) under the purview of the CFTC.

The agency is seeking between $110,000 and $120,000 for each of Richmond's alleged violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, or triple his monetary gain from each violation.

Richmond currently works for Shamrock Energy, a division of Optigas Inc. based in Denver. The complaint said Richmond lives in Superior, CO.

Western Gas agreed last year to pay a civil penalty of $7 million in a settlement with the CFTC over charges of attempted manipulation and reporting of false information by traders on natural gas transactions in the 1999-2002 time period.

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