The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) got a $14 million hike in its budget for fiscal year (FY) 2008 in the omnibus spending bill that President Bush signed in late December.

The bill gives the agency $112.05 million to carry out its oversight of energy trading markets in FY 2008, up from the approximately $98 million that it received from Congress in FY 2007.

"I applaud the president and Congress for the level of CFTC funding included in this bill," said CFTC Acting Chairman Walter Lukken, adding that the budget hike was "critical and greatly appreciated."

Lukken, who has been under intense pressure from Congress to step up oversight of energy trading, has called on Congress several times in recent months to give the agency more money to do its job. In addition, the CFTC sought authority to heighten its oversight of trading in exempt commercial markets (ECM), such as the Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange (see NGI, Oct. 29, 2007).

The need for greater oversight of the ECM energy trading markets gained attention when the questionable trading practices of failed hedge fund Amaranth Advisors LLC were revealed and resulted in separate enforcement actions brought by the CFTC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July (see NGI, July 30, 2007).

The CFTC is charged with weeding out fraud, manipulation and speculation in the energy, metals and agriculture markets.

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