Release: 5409-07

For Release: November 8, 2007

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Settles Natural Gas False Reporting and Attempted Manipulation Lawsuit with Energy Trader

Defendant Paul Atha, a Former Trader at Mirant Americas Energy Marketing, L.P. (Mirant), Ordered to Pay a $200,000 Penalty

Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it has entered into a consent order of permanent injunction with defendant Paul Atha of Dunwoody, Georgia, settling charges that he falsely reported and attempted to manipulate natural gas prices.

The order, which was entered on November 7, 2007 by the Honorable J. Owen Forrester of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, requires Atha to pay a $200,000 civil monetary penalty and permanently prohibits Atha from applying for registration with the CFTC, engaging in any activity requiring such registration, or acting as a principal as defined by the National Futures Association.

The order arises from a CFTC lawsuit filed on February 1, 2005 charging that, between January 2000 and late 2000 or early 2001, Atha repeatedly submitted false natural gas trading information, including fabricated price, volume and counterparty information, to certain firms that compile natural gas price indexes. (See CFTC Press Release 5045-05, February 1, 2005).

The order finds that Atha, in concert with two other traders who were also charged in the complaint, regularly submitted false natural gas trading information to companies that calculated natural gas price indexes, including Inside FERC Gas Market Report, Gas Daily, and Natural Gas Intelligence. The order further finds that Atha knowingly submitted the false information in an attempt to skew those indexes at multiple natural gas delivery locations to benefit their trading positions.

The CFTC previously settled with Atha’s co-defendants in November 2006 (see CFTC Press Release 5258-06, November 17, 2006). The order against Atha resolves the CFTC’s lawsuit in its entirety.

Atha Sentenced After Entering Pleas of Guilty to Felony Charges Based on Similar Charges

Previously, on June 19, 2006, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Atha and his co-defendants in the CFTC complaint each entered a plea of guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to manipulate the price of a commodity in interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 317. The criminal charges were based upon some of the same conduct alleged in the CFTC’s complaint. Atha was sentenced on November 13, 2006, and received a three-year probation, six months of home confinement, and a $5,000 fine.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Kathleen Banar, Anne Termine, Michael Otten, Laura Gardy, Lacey Dingman, Richard Wagner, and Rick Glaser.

Media Contacts
Ianthe Zabel

Dennis Holden

Last Updated: November 7, 2007