Big 6 face criminal prosecution if suspected of price fixing.

FT: “UK regulators will be given powers to prosecute anyone suspected of rigging the energy market, under proposals being put forward by the government.”
“Ed Davey, energy secretary, first floated the idea last October, as part of a flurry of proposals to address growing public anger with the “big six” energy suppliers after they announced a series of inflation-busting price rises.
….Under the proposed laws, it would be a criminal offence to fix the price of energy at an artificial level or use insider information to buy or sell energy on the wholesale market.
It would also be an offence to make misleading claims or conceal facts about wholesale energy prices to manipulate the market, especially if it could affect competition. The proposed criminal sanctions could come into force by next spring.
Mr Davey said: “Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable, and these proposals provide a much stronger deterrent, more in line with the approach taken in the financial markets.”
The issue first came to the public’s attention two years ago when ICIS Heren, the price-reporting agency, alerted regulators to unusual trading activity on the British wholesale gas market in September 2012. Ofgem and the Financial Conduct Authority investigated the trades but found no evidence of market manipulation.
Regulators can investigate and fine people for breaching energy market rules. But such manipulation would be considered a criminal offence under the proposed laws, and anyone found guilty could be sent to prison, the government said.
However, legal experts have questioned whether the proposals really represent a significant departure. Under UK law, those convicted of entering into a cartel can be sent to prison for five years.
Energy UK, which represents the big six suppliers, said the proposed powers would be “an important deterrent” and bolster steps the energy industry was already taking towards greater transparency.
“Wholesale energy markets must be open and transparent and anyone found in breach of market rules should face the full force of the law,” it said.”