Former Glencore oil trader Emilio Jose Heredia Collado has pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate an oil-price benchmark to influence global oil prices.
Heredia now faces up to five years in prison.
According to prosecutors, the 49-year-old trader attempted to manipulate prices through an S&P Global Platts-managed process between 2012 and 2016, the WSJ reported.
More specifically, prosecutors alleged that Heredia directed buy and sell orders that would manipulate fuel oil prices and allow the companies he worked for to generate profits off the price swings.
Co-conspirators were directed by Heredia to submit bids and offers through oil benchmark price publisher S&P Global Platts to change price assessments that would allow the company he was working for to scoop up fuel oil from another company at a lower price.
While the charges contained several examples, in one specific instance, prosecutors said Heredia ordered traders to submit bids and offers that resulted in a massive reduction--over $40 per metric ton--in the benchmark price for bunker fuel, which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit profits for Heredia’s company in 2016.
Glencore is cooperating with the authorities in this case, but also notes that Heredia was a former employee, and not exclusively of Glencore. In a Tuesday statement, Glencore said: “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.”
Heredia entered his guilty plea via video conference Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, and the case is being highlighted as an invigorated crackdown on energy market manipulation. It follows another trading scandal that climaxed late last year.
In December, energy and commodities trading giant Vitol Inc agreed to pay $164 million to US and Brazilian authorities to settle attempted market manipulation and fraud charges, including bribes to officials in Mexico, Brazil, and Ecuador for business with state oil companies between 2015 and 2020.