• By The Financial District

U.S. Justice Dep't Quizzes Manipulation Of Platts Benchmarks

The US Department of Justice is investigating suspected manipulation of energy pricing benchmarks published by S&P Global Platts, expanding the agency's crackdown on misconduct in the global commodities market, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Photo Insert: The US S&P Global Platts office in New York City

London-based Platts is a data and news provider which focuses on energy, metal and agricultural commodities. The company collects data from traders on their deal prices to determine a daily market price for a number of physical commodities, Chris Prentice and Jody Godoy reported for Reuters.

US prosecutors are probing suspected manipulative behavior by individual traders when submitting those deal prices to Platts' price assessments for oil and other energy benchmarks, the four people said, without specifying which ones. The people declined to be named as the probes are not public.

Over the past year, US authorities have brought two cases of alleged manipulation of Platts' oil benchmarks by traders at two different companies, but prosecutors are now probing similar behavior across the market, the sources said.

The previously unreported, industrywide probe opens up a new front in the Justice Department's crackdown on fraud, bribery, and manipulation in the commodities market, raising the stakes for traders and companies globally which daily use Platts' benchmarks to price billions of dollars worth of contracts.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The sources said prosecutors are focused on traders' behavior and gave no indication of suspected wrongdoing by Platts. In response to a request for comment by Reuters, Platts said it conducts reviews to ensure the integrity of its price assessments.

Platts publishes data and correspondence used to determine a price assessment and provides this data to regulators when requested, said Dave Ernsberger, global head of pricing and market insight for S&P Global Platts.

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