After months of more expensive gasoline driven by wildly fluctuating oil prices, the Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation of oil and gas markets to determine whether or not they engaged in anti-competitive conduct and price manipulation, The Washington Post reports.
“I am not convinced that these price increases were necessary or reflected true market conditions,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a statement after FTC informed Congress of the investigation. “And the high profits in the oil industry only increase my concerns that West Virginians are paying more at the pump while the big companies are getting richer.”
Though collusion and price-fixing fall under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, the FTC holds the authority to issue civil sanctions on companies that manipulate the prices of petroleum products. The investigation comes just after (in a separate incident) the ICE Futures exchange in London imposed a $40,000 penalty on Goldman Sachs for “disorderly trading” of crude oil contracts.