Four longtime traders in the global oil market claim in a lawsuit that the prices for buying and selling crude are fixed — and that they can prove it.
Some of the world’s biggest oil companies including BP Plc, Statoil ASA, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc conspired with Morgan Stanley and energy traders including Vitol Group to manipulate the closely watched spot prices for Brent crude oil for more than a decade, they allege. The North Sea Brent benchmark is used to price the majority of the world’s crude and helps determine where costs are headed for fuels including gasoline and heating oil.
The case, which follows at least six other U.S. lawsuits alleging price-fixing in the Brent market, provides what appears to be the most detailed description yet of the alleged manipulations and lays out a possible road map for investigators.
The traders who brought it — who include a former director of the New York Mercantile Exchange, or Nymex, one of the markets where contracts for future Brent deliveries are traded – – allege they paid “artificial and anticompetitive prices” for Brent futures. They also outline attempts to manipulate prices for Russian Urals crude and cite instances when the spread between Brent and Dubai grades of crude may have been rigged.
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