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New FTC Rule Prohibits Petroleum Market Manipulation

The Federal Trade Commission Thursday issued a final rule that it said will prohibit market manipulation in the petroleum industry.

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The FTC says the Rule will prohibit fraud or deceit in wholesale petroleum markets, and omissions of material information that are likely to distort petroleum markets. The Final Rule will become effective on November 4, 2009.

"This new Rule will allow us to crack down on fraud and manipulation that can drive up prices at the pump," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "We will police the oil markets - and if we find companies that are manipulating the markets, we will go after them."

The Rule prohibits fraudulent or deceptive conduct that could harm wholesale petroleum markets. Specific examples include false public announcements of planned pricing or output decisions, false statistical or data reporting, and wash sales intended to disguise the actual liquidity of a market or the price of a particular product.

The Rule also prohibits material omissions from a statement that, although true, is misleading under the circumstances.