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FERC proposes nearly $217M in fines for alleged gas price manipulation by Total

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FERC proposes nearly $217M in fines for alleged gas price manipulation by Total

FERCdemanded that Total SA,affiliates and employees prove why they are not liable for nearly $217 millionin civil penalties and should not be forced to disgorge unjust profits of morethan $9 million for manipulation of natural gas prices between June 2009 andJune 2012.

Inan April 28 order to show cause and a notice of proposed penalty, FERC directedTotal Gas & Power NorthAmerica Inc., Aaron Hall and Therese Tran to demonstrate that theyhad not violated Section 4A of the Natural Gas Act and Section 1c.1 of thecommission's regulations through a scheme to manipulate gas prices at fourtrading hubs in the U.S. Southwest.

Areport by FERC Office of Enforcement staff charges that Total Gas & PowerNorth America, through Hall and Tran, made trades designed to affect monthlynatural gas indexes.

Thereport said trading occurred at prices and in ways that moved index prices tobenefit the company's related derivative positions. The trades were made atregional trading hubs and then reported to publications for inclusion inmonthly index prices.

FERCasked Total Gas & Power North America to show why it should not disgorgeunjust profits of $9.18 million plus interest, and asked the company why itshould not be assessed a civil penalty of $213.6 million. The commission alsocharged Hall and Tran to show why they should not face civil penalties of $1million and $2 million, respectively. The parties have 30 days to respond.

Reachingfurther across the corporate family, FERC asked Total Gas & Power NorthAmerica's parent company, Total SA, and affiliate Total Gas & Power Ltd. toshow why they should not be responsible for the other parties' conduct based ontheir control and authority over their daily operations. (IN12-17)