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Oil Price Manipulation

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Trade Commission plans to issue a rule to prevent petroleum wholesalers from lying about the price of crude oil, gasoline, or petroleum distillates in a way that would manipulate the market.

Civil penalties may be up to $1 million per violation per day.

Omissions also are violations, even if statements made are literally true, if they are misleading under the circumstances. Under the rule, proof by a preponderance of the evidence would be required to find a violation.

Specific examples of prohibited fraudulent and deceptive conduct include false public announcements of planned pricing or output decisions, false statistical or data reporting, and "wash sales" intended to disguise the actual liquidity or price of a particular product or market for that product.

The FTC invites written comments on issues raised by this proposed rule, revised April 22, and seeks answers to specific questions listed in the revision.

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