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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Jun 25, 2013 8:52 AM Flag

    U.S. FTC Said to Open Probe of Oil Price-Fixing After EU

    U.S. FTC Said to Open Probe of Oil Price-Fixing After EU

    By Sara Forden - Jun 24, 2013 10:01 PM MT

    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, two people familiar with the matter said.

    The investigation, now in a preliminary stage, will probably broaden into a multi-jurisdictional affair like the inquiry into manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the people said. FTC investigators are reviewing the progress made by their European counterparts, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

    The FTC, which routinely monitors wholesale and retail gasoline prices in the U.S. to look for anticompetitive behavior, agreed with the Justice Department’s antitrust division to handle the probe, said the people. The assignment of the matter to the FTC instead of the Justice Department is an indication that U.S. regulators don’t suspect the conduct they’re scrutinizing is criminal, the people said.

    The opening of the oil-price investigation in the U.S. is the latest in a growing number of simultaneous EU-U.S. inquiries into areas including Libor, standard essential patents and Internet search manipulation, as well as merger reviews in the music and airline industries. The extent to which regulators in each jurisdiction can collaborate with one another depends on whether the companies under review sign waivers allowing data about them to be shared.

    Price Reporting

    The probe will probably include agency-issued civil investigative demands, which are similar to subpoenas, as the FTC scrutinizes how price-reporting companies such as Platts, the energy news and data provider owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc (MHFI)., help determine the cost of raw materials, the people said.

    Platts publishes the Dated Brent benchmark that contributes to setting the price of more than half the world