U.S. FTC launches oil price-fixing probe: sources
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission opened a formal investigation into how prices of crude oil and petroleum-derived products are set, mirroring a European Union inquiry into pricing practices in the energy markets, two people familiar with the matter said.
The investigation, now in a preliminary stage, will probably become a broad probe similar to the multi-jurisdictional inquiry into bank manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the people said. FTC investigators are reviewing the progress their European counterparts have made, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is confidential.
The inquiry will probably include agency-issued civil investigative demands, which are similar to subpoenas, the people said.
The FTC, which routinely monitors wholesale and retail gasoline prices in the U.S. looking for anticompetitive behaviour, agreed with the Justice Department’s antitrust division to handle the probe, said the people.
The agency will scrutinize how price reporting companies such as Platts, the energy news and data provider owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc., help determine the cost of raw materials.
Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the FTC, declined to comment on the investigation.