The Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group, launched on April 21, 2011, was formed after President Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder to work with federal and state agencies to monitor oil and gas markets for potential wrongdoing. In response to the President's call for action, Department of Justice leadership consulted with many federal agencies and state attorneys general to discuss their collective expertise, available information, consumer education and the most effective legal tools to combat fraud in this market. As a result of this examination and to further the central mission of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, the Attorney General formed the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group. The Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group is co-chaired by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Other working group members include the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, Civil Division, and Antitrust Division, the FBI, the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, as well as the Departments of Agriculture and Energy.
The Attorney General’s memo to the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force announcing the formation of the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group and its mission was issued when it launched on April 21, 2011.
Currently, the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group is aggressively focused on identifying civil or criminal violations in the oil and gasoline markets, and ensuring that American consumers are not harmed by unlawful conduct, which remains an important priority. With the recent increase of gasoline prices, the working group is monitoring the situation and if it finds any evidence of criminal behavior or other misconduct its members will respond immediately. As a result of their ongoing work, Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group members have been investigating potential violations and have produced several reports since the working group's creation.
The FTC, a working group co-chair, launched an investigation in June 2011 into whether there was any antitrust violation or market manipulation by refiners, oil producers, transporters, marketers, physical or financial traders, or others. That investigation is ongoing. Members of the Working Group stand ready to act if the FTC learns anything that implicates the laws they enforce. FTC staff will keep Working Group members apprised of developments as necessary. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report in September 2011, concluding that crude oil prices are the primary driver of retail gasoline prices.
The FTC also monitors retail gasoline and diesel prices in 360 cities across the nation and wholesale prices in 20 major urban areas in an effort to identify possible anticompetitive activities and determine whether a law enforcement investigation would be warranted.
In December 2011, the New York Attorney General’s Office, a working group member through NAAG, issued its report on oil and gas prices in New York, including a discussion of recent enforcement efforts directed at price gouging and a conclusion that the price of crude oil is the greatest contributor to retail gas prices.
In addition, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, a working group member through NAAG, issues regular reports on oil and gas prices in Indiana.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office, a working group member through NAAG, issues quarterly reports on gas prices in Washington.
Other Helpful Gas Price Links
Report Possible Fraud:
You can report information you may have about possible oil and gas price fraud. Working group co-chair, CFTC, has posted whistleblower information on its website.
Protect yourself from Fraud:
The CFTC, a working group co-chair, urges you to be alert to possible fraudulent claims that you can profit on commodity futures or options trading as a result of changes in the prices of physical commodities based on seasonal weather patterns or other well-known events here.
Get daily gas price reports:
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, a working group member, posts daily reports on gasoline prices, and what is causing it to rise.