The European Commission investigation into the possible manipulation of energy price benchmarks has widened, with Brussels seeking new information from trading houses, including Glencore, following last week's raids on oil majors.
The Commission has sent requests for information to Swiss-based commodities titans Glencore, Vitol, Gunvor and Mercuria, and possibly others, according to people familiar with the situation. The companies declined to comment. There is no suggestion that the trading houses are under investigation.
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"They are very generic questions – we are being asked for help, almost as a witness," said an official at one Geneva-based trading house. Another official at a different trading house added: "It was just a question of time. Everyone and anyone who has any relation to oil trading will receive a request for information."
The requests follow last week's raids on BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil of Norway. The London offices of Platts, the price reporting agency, were also raided. Brussels last week also asked for information from Eni, the Italian oil major, and from Finnish refiner Neste Oil, the companies said.
The probe into oil benchmarks comes in the wake of the scandal over the manipulation of Libor rates and months after one of Europe's largest energy trading groups warned of "inaccurate pricing" of crude and oil products.
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The European Commission last week said several raids had taken place over concerns that "companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price-reporting agency to manipulate the published prices", adding that it was concerned that "companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices".
Statoil said that the "suspected violations" were related to the way prices for crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels are assessed by Platts in a process known as "market-on-close", and "may have been going on since 2002".