Platts in lockdown as investigators continue oil probe

Thu May 16, 2013 11:33am EDT
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By Peg Mackey

LONDON (Reuters) - European anti-trust investigators on Thursday searched the offices of price agency Platts and at least one major oil company for a third day, hunting for evidence of possible price manipulation on oil markets, witnesses said.

Authorities on Tuesday raided Platts' London Canary Wharf bureau and the offices of Statoil (STL.OL: Quote), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) and BP (BP.L: Quote) in the biggest trading probe since the Libor scandal.

With attention focused on Platts' role in setting oil price benchmarks, the publisher - a unit of McGraw-Hill MHFI.N - is in lockdown during the European Commission's inspection, say sources familiar with the company.

A team of inspectors is gathering evidence from laptops, the witnesses said.

"We are all in the dark about it. The investigators will likely be here all week," said one member of Platts staff. "We have all been told explicitly not to speak to anyone about it."

Platts continues to operate business as normal, traders said.

As investigators raided the office, reporters were told by Platts management to cooperate. Editorial director Dan Tanz stood up to say it was the "price of being relevant."

A spokeswoman for Platts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.   Continued...

Fuel pumps are seen at a Shell petrol station in London May 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth