Five questions about: Gas price fixing


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The Independent Online

I remember this. A whistleblower accused the big energy firms of fixing gas prices, didn't he?

That's right. Just over a year ago the City watchdog reported that it had been contacted by a whistleblower who claimed that the wholesale gas market had been regularly manipulated. Meanwhile, the energy regulator, Ofgem, said that it has been sent evidence about suspect trading.

So what's happened now? Are energy bosses going to be jailed?

Quite the opposite. Ofgem and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a statement this week which said: "It has been concluded that no evidence of the alleged market manipulation could be found and therefore that the interests of consumers have not been harmed."

Is that a whitewash?

Of course not. The regulators conducted a detailed analysis of all relevant information before coming up with their conclusion. They spent the best part of a year talking to interested parties and assessing the evidence. They can't afford not to take such accusations seriously and investigate them fully.

So the energy firms have been completely exonerated?

Of the specific allegations, yes. They related to trading on 28 September 2012 in the period leading up to 4.30pm and alleged that gas was sold at a lower price than the price of the best bid at the time in order to manipulate the benchmark price.

Is that the end of the story?

No. The fear raised by the allegation was that price manipulation would end up hitting consumers, who could be forced to pay more for energy than they needed to. Ofgem is now working to strengthen transparency within the gas market and analyse whether the current processes are working. The FCA is also monitoring energy and financial markets for any evidence of misconduct.

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