CFTC Sues Dutch Hedge Fund For Energy Market Manipulation

Jul 25 2008 | 12:04pm ET

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has sued a Dutch hedge fund over alleged energy market manipulation.

The regulator has accused Amsterdam-based Optiver Holding, two of its units and three employees with both market manipulation and attempted market manipulation, the first civil case to result from its investigation into energy prices. The CFTC says that dozens of probes are ongoing.

According to the CFTC, the defendants attempted to manipulate the crude oil, gasoline and heating oil markets on 19 occasions last March, succeeding at least five times and turning $1 million in allegedly ill-gotten profits. Optiver engaged in “banging the close,” the CFTC said in the enforcement action, filed in Manhattan federal court, similar to the charges it has levied against former Amaranth Advisors traders Brian Hunter and Matthew Donohoe.

The CFTC quotes Christopher Dowson, head trader for Optiver US, saying he and another trader decided to “just whack the oil.” Bastiaan van Kempen, CEO of Optiver, is quoted as saying, “You should milk it for right now as much as you can, because you never know how long this thing is going to last.”

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