For Release: January 15, 2008
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that today a jury in federal court in Houston, Texas found that defendant Anthony Dizona violated the Commodity Exchange Act by attempting to manipulate natural gas prices on eight separate occasions. The jury verdict was based on evidence that Dizona participated in a scheme whereby traders regularly circulated an e-mail with directions to the traders to report prices in such a way that it would benefit their trading positions.
Following a one week trial in which Dizona did not testify in his own defense, the jury deliberated for approximately five hours before finding Dizona liable.
“Attempting to manipulate the natural gas market is a serious offense that the government will eventually uncover and prosecute with all of its resources. This jury verdict demonstrates that we will do what it takes to make sure traders like Dizona are brought to justice. The energy trading community should continue to improve its compliance programs to help ensure the integrity of the commodities markets,” said CFTC Director of Enforcement Gregory Mocek.
The jury verdict arises from a CFTC complaint filed on February 1, 2005 (see CFTC Press Release 5045-05, February 1, 2005). The complaint alleged that, between October 2001 and June 2002, Dizona knowingly delivered dozens of reports containing knowingly inaccurate fixed-price, physical baseload trade information for at least four natural gas pipeline locations in the Western United States to compilers of natural gas monthly price indexes including Platts, a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, and Intelligence Press, Inc. At the time, Dizona was an employee of Shell Trading Gas and Power Company which provided services for Shell subsidiary Coral Energy Resources, L.P.
The complaint also alleged that Dizona attempted to manipulate the price of natural gas in interstate commerce by reporting biased information to price reporting companies. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Dizona participated in a scheme where traders regularly circulated an e-mail with directions to the traders to report prices in such a way that it would benefit their positions. Five other defendants who were charged in the same complaint settled the charges on November 9, 2007 (see CFTC Press Release 5411-07, November 9, 2007) pursuant to a consent order of permanent injunction that imposed a civil monetary penalty of $1 million.
The following CFTC staff members were responsible for this case: Joseph Konizeski, John W. Dunfee, Luke B. Marsh, Mary E. Kaminski, Tracey Wingate, Carlene Gordon, Paul G. Hayeck, and Joan M. Manley.
Last Updated: January 15, 2008