FERC imposes US$30,000,000 fine for market manipulation by natural gas futures trader

On 21 April 2011 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order imposing a US$30,000,000 civil penalty on Brian Hunter after finding that the former natural gas futures trader at Amaranth Advisors L.L.C. violated FERC's Anti-Manipulation Rule. This order is significant for several reasons. It is FERC's first fully litigated market manipulation case, which analyzes trading conduct, and represents the seminal decision in FERC's market manipulation case law. It is also significant because of the size of the penalty – the largest to be imposed by FERC since the agency's enforcement authority was greatly enhanced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Finally, it is important because it has been a source of discord between the FERC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which has argued that FERC exceeded its authority in prosecuting the case.

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