Gas prices are on the rise again, and in some states the price per gallon is inching its way toward the $4 or even $5 mark. But while there are lawful reasons for increased fuel prices, the U.S. Department of Justice is issuing an action to address potential cases of fraud and price manipulation.
Last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the formation of an Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group to help identify criminal violations in the fuel markets. The group aims to ensure that American fuel consumers are not gouged by unlawful conduct.
“At President Obama’s request, I have been directing efforts to increase cooperation between the Department of Justice and other groups with relevant authority, including federal agencies and state attorneys general,” said Attorney General Holder in a statement. “I am proud to say that this working group will enable us to formalize these partnerships, share monitoring information, and exchange ideas about what works—and what doesn’t work—at the state and federal level.”
According to Holder, the group will foster increased cooperation between investigators and government officials to enforce state and federal laws against illegal fuel price manipulation. The combined efforts of several organizations will also enable officials to evaluate significant market developments, including the activities of speculators and index traders, making authorities better prepared to spot suspected illegal activity.
The Justice Department said they’ve previously proven that this kind of approach can be effective, explaining that the working group will report to Attorney General Holder through the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF)—a partnership formed in late 2009 between agencies, regulators, state attorneys general, and local law enforcement organizations. According to Holder, FFETF is well equipped to fight against financial fraud.