Barclays Faces $453 Million Fine For Rigging US Energy Market

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission upheld a fine of $453 million on Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) for alleged manipulation of electricity prices.

FERC asked Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) to pay $435 million within 30 days, while the managing director of a power trading team, Scott Connelly, was asked to pay $15 million and three others were required to pay $1 million each, taking the total fine imposed to a record $453 million.

FERC Upheld Last Year’s Fine

In October 2012, FERC staff first proposed the fines over alleged manipulation of Californian and other Western power markets by Barclays during the last decade. This order has now been upheld by FERC’s board of commissioners.

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During last year’s judgment, FERC cited emails that appeared to indicate Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) staff detailing how they allegedly rigged electricity trading in the Western United States.

In a statement, the regulator noted Barclays actions demonstrate an affirmative, coordinated and intentional effort to carry out manipulative scheme, in violation of the Federal Power Act and FERC’s Anti-Manipulation Rule.

Barclays To Forego $34.9 Million Profits

FERC also ordered Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) disgorge $34.9 million in ‘unjust profits’ and interest. The amount foregone by Barclays would be distributed to low-income aid programs in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.

Barclays Facing Series Of Scandals

David Sheppard of Reuters observes the FERC sanction is the latest in a series of scandals faced by Barclays. The British bank is facing a $450 million fine by U.S. and UK regulators for allegedly rigging global benchmark interest rates, LIBOR. The bank accepted wrongdoing in the LIBOR case. However, in the recent FERC case, the bank said it intends to vigorously defend its case.

Earlier, Barclays was under investigation by Germany’s tax authorities over the use of ‘dividend stripping’ strategy for alleged tax avoidance.

Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC)’s chief executive Antony Jenkins, who took charge of the bank last summer, has pledged to clean up the group’s aggressive reputation for exploiting loopholes in regulations and tax rules.

FERC’s enforcement powers were expanded by the Congress in 2005, following the Enron electricity manipulation scandals in the Western United States earlier in the decade. David Sheppard of Reuters feel the recent case will test the FERC’s enforcement powers.

The Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) case is expected to move to a federal court.

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