BP, Shell, Statoil sued over claim of oil price manipulation

Texas trader brings suit

BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were named in a lawsuit accusing them of manipulating the price of North Sea Brent crude oil and futures contracts.

Gregory Smith, a Texas trader who claims he overpaid for Brent crude oil futures, sued the oil companies in Manhattan federal court today. Smith claimed the companies intentionally reported false prices to Platts, a division of McGraw Hill Financial Inc., which publishes benchmark prices for the oil industry.

Smith is seeking to represent a class of all investors who bought or sold Brent crude oil futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange or the IntercontinentalExchange from 2002 to the present. A similar case was filed in Manhattan federal court May 28.

Smith claimed the oil companies violated U.S. antitrust law and the Commodity Exchange Act. He is seeking unspecified damages, which may be tripled under antitrust law.

European Union antitrust regulators raided the offices of Platts, BP, Shell and Statoil beginning May 14 to investigate possible price manipulation and collusion by traders.

An e-mail message to BP’s press office wasn’t immediately returned. Phone messages to Shell’s press office and to Jannik Lindbaek Jr., a Statoil spokesman, weren’t immediatetly returned.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with Platts and other companies in providing energy market news and information.

The case is Smith v. BP Plc, 13-cv-03944, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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