Amaranth Seeks Deal On Market-Manipulation Charges

Jul 27 2009 | 11:29am ET

For the second time in less than a year, defunct hedge fund Amaranth Advisors is trying to make a deal with regulators to settle charges it manipulated the natural gas market.

Greenwich, Conn.-based Amaranth, which collapsed three years ago in one of the most spectacular hedge-fund implosions ever, filed the settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Friday. The agency must still approve the settlement.

That is no sure thing: FERC rejected an Amaranth settlement offer made in November, saying it was “not in the public interest.” The agency sued Amaranth and two former employees two years ago, accusing it of manipulating the price of natural-gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange. FERC is seeking a $291 million fine.

Terms of both settlement offers have not been revealed, so it is unclear how the new offer differs from the old. One difference is Brian Hunter, the former Amaranth trader whose natural gas trades cost Amaranth more than $6 billion and sank the firm. FERC severed Hunter’s case from that of Amaranth and Matthew Donohoe; Hunter will have a hearing on Aug. 4.

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