According to numerous reports, the European Commission regulators yesterday raided the offices of oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway as part of an investigation into possible price-rigging in the oil markets. The targeted companies include BP, Shell and the Norweigan company Statoil. The Guardian explains that officials believe that oil companies colluded to manipulate pricing data:
The commission said the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a "huge impact" on the price of petrol at the pumps "potentially harming final consumers".
Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said the alleged rigging of oil prices was "as serious as rigging Libor" – which led to banks being fined hundreds of millions of pounds.
The inquiry also involves Platts, the world's largest oil price reporting agency. The concept here is very similar to both the LIBOR scandal, which involved banks manipulating the benchmark rates for interest rates, and to the possible rigging of interest rate swap prices through the manipulation of ISDAfix, the benchmark rate for those instruments, which is also the subject of a regulatory probe.
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