Regulators clear British firms of gas price-fixing

 
Suzie Neuwirth
ENERGY regulator Ofgem and financial watchdog the FCA yesterday said they had found no evidence of gas market manipulation in Britain after concluding an investigation.

A year-long probe into the wholesale gas market was kicked off after a whistleblower, Seth Freedman from price reporting agency ICIS Heron, made allegations of gas price-fixing.

“It has been concluded that no evidence of the alleged market manipulation could be found and therefore that the interests of consumers have not been harmed,” said Ofgem in a statement.

“In light of these findings, Ofgem and the FCA each consider that no further action is required in connection with the allegations,” added the FCA in a separate statement.

The price of gas has been at the forefront of the current political debate into the energy market and rising wholesale costs are one of the key drivers raising consumers’ energy bills, according to the big six suppliers. Four of the big six have announced average bill increases ranging between 8.2 per cent and 10.4 per cent in the past few weeks.

However, recent figures from Ofgem claim that wholesale prices have only risen by 1.7 per cent over the last year, which has since been disputed by the energy suppliers.

“Energy UK and its members are pleased that the FCA and Ofgem have concluded that there is no evidence of market manipulation,” said Energy UK, which represents the firms.

“The gas market is an international one with many overseas companies trading on it so any allegations of manipulation are very serious and must be fully investigated.”

Energy secretary Ed Davey said that he is “fully committed to ensuring we have a transparent energy market where the risk of abuse is reduced” and pledged to introduce the criminal sanctions for energy market manipulation set out in the annual energy statement last week.

ICIS Heron was unable to respond before the deadline.

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