THOMAS BIESHEUVEL AND JAVIER BLAS, 23 March 2021
(Bloomberg) –A former Glencore Plc trader was charged by U.S. authorities with conspiracy to manipulate a key oil price benchmark, the latest sign that prosecutors around the world are stepping up their scrutiny of the notoriously opaque commodity trading industry.
U.S. prosecutors alleged that Emilio Heredia, a former Glencore employee, directed buy and sell orders that would push fuel oil prices up and down. That allowed the companies he worked for to profit from the price swings, between 2012 and 2016, according to a filing at a U.S. District Court in San Francisco on March 15.
The investigation is the latest legal setback for Glencore, already embroiled in a wide-ranging probe by the U.S. Department of Justice on allegations of bribery and money laundering. The UK, Swiss and Brazilian authorities are also investigating the commodity trader.
“The purpose of the conspiracy was for Heredia and his co-conspirators to unlawfully enrich themselves,” prosecutors said in the filing.
Glencore said Heredia was a former employee and that it’s co-operating with authorities. A lawyer representing Heredia didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and email requesting comment. The story was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“We note that one of Chemoil’s — and later Glencore Ltd.’s — former employees in the US has been charged with conspiracy to manipulate the price of fuel oil in the LA market between 2012 and 2016,” Glencore said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the Los Angeles fuel-oil market.