Holder urged to investigate price-fixing by oil companies

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.) wants the Justice Department to investigate whether alleged price fixing in the European Union by oil giants Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil spilled over into the United States.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman aired his concerns about the recent probe by EU officials into potential oil price manipulation in a Friday letter to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Pennsylvania Supreme Court releases new congressional map 36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020 MORE.

Wyden said price fixing in commodity markets “has been an area of abuse within the U.S. in the past,” noting the Enron power market scandal.

“It is critically important to determine whether or not similar efforts have been made to manipulate U.S. oil indices by these firms or others,” he added.

EU investigators raided the European offices of Statoil, BP and Shell earlier this week. The officials are looking into whether the firms submitted false information to Platts, a price-reporting organization owned by McGraw-Hill Financial.

As chairman of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, Holder is charged with monitoring oil and gas markets, Wyden noted.

The Oregon Democrat said the matter deserves a closer look because U.S. companies rely on London-based Brent crude oil indices and other contracts when buying oil.

“Efforts to manipulate the European oil indices, if proven, may have already impacted U.S. consumers and businesses, because of the interrelationships among world oil markets and hedging practices,” Wyden said.