By Terry Baynes
Dec 21 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday refused to dismiss
a lawsuit accusing Arcadia Petroleum, Parnon Energy and two oil
traders of manipulating the price of oil in 2008.
In his order, U.S. District Judge William Pauley of the
Southern District of New York found plausible the lawsuit's
claims that the defendants tried to fix the physical crude oil
market to benefit their financial trading positions.
The class action, consolidating several lawsuits by other
oil traders, is the second faced by traders James Dyer of Parnon
Energy and Nick Wildgoose of Arcadia and the companies.
In April, Pauley denied a motion to dismiss similar
allegations by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
regulator in one of the largest-ever oil manipulation cases.
The lawsuits claim that Dyer and Wildgoose, both of whom
previously worked at BP Plc, amassed large physical positions at
the key U.S. oil trading hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, to create an
impression of tight supplies that would boost prices.
Later they dumped those barrels back onto the market,
causing prices to crash and racking up profits from short
positions they had accrued in futures markets, the suit said.
In denying the defendants' motion to dismiss the suit, the
judge found the allegations "neither bare nor conclusory."
"Plaintiffs' alleged injury - losses from transacting in a
market tainted by price manipulation - is of the type antitrust
laws were intended to prevent," he wrote.
Timothy Carey, a lawyer for the defendants, did not
immediately respond to a request for comment. He argued at a
court hearing in October that plaintiffs failed to make their
claim that the traders intended to monopolize the crude oil
futures market at Cushing.
Arcadia and Parnon are owned by Norwegian billionaire John
Fredriksen. Fredriksen has said the U.S. lawsuit against his oil
trading companies may be a bid to extract revenge for BP's giant
Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, by targeting the former BP
Arcadia has argued the traders never held enough oil to
influence global prices.
The case is In re: Crude oil commodities futures litigation
in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,
No. 11- 03679.
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