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Enforcement Actions and Related Civil Claims

The Brattle Group’s experience is unmatched concerning the ability to provide expert testimony and litigation support of civil claims against manipulative market behavior. We provide expert testimony in response to SEC, FERC, and CFTC claims that assess liability and estimate the harm resulting from alleged manipulative behavior.


Below is a list of representative engagements for our Enforcement Actions and Related Civil Claims practice.

Plaintiff’s actions related to the California Energy Crisis
The Brattle Group provided litigation support and expert testimony in many proceedings before the FERC seeking refunds from sellers into the California Power Exchange (PX), the California ISO, and the bilateral markets in the Pacific Northwest in the aftermath of the Energy Crisis of 2000-2001. Our clients included the largest utility companies in California, the California Attorney General, and the California Public Utilities Commission. Brattle experts offered testimony on manipulative gaming schemes, the exercise of market power, price discrimination, fraudulent misrepresentation in electricity and ancillary services sales, and the price impacts of such seller behavior on prices. Brattle testimony linked manipulative activities directly to violations of the PX and ISO tariffs and sellers’ market-based-rate authorizations and also explained why the resulting distorted prices in bilateral contracts were contrary to the public interest in the context of the Mobile-Sierra Doctrine.
Support of FERC enforcement action against Energy Transfer Partners (ETP)
The Brattle Group filed expert testimony and provided direct litigation support for the FERC’s Order to Show Cause brought against ETP. The case alleged manipulation of the IFERC Monthly Natural Gas Index through the use of uneconomic fixed-price trades placed at the Houston Ship Channel during several bidweeks over a 25 month period, to the benefit of financial derivatives and physical index positions tied to that index. The case settled in 2009, with ETP neither admitting nor denying the allegations but agreeing to pay a civil penalty of $5 million and disgorgement of $25 million.
Support of an agency investigation into the manipulation of precious metals markets

A U.S. regulator requested that we perform an independent analysis concerning the suspected manipulation of precious metals spot, futures, and options contracts traded on Comex and Globex. Our analysis used data from the exchanges and the suspected firm to deconstruct the company’s trading book. Trading instruments were separated into potential manipulation triggers and targets, such that the cause and effect of the behavior of concern could be evaluated analytically. Where this economic analysis suggested behavior of concern, contemporaneous email and instant messages were evaluated to confirm or refute manipulative intent.

Amaranth Advisors/Brian Hunter natural gas attempted manipulation
The Brattle Group was engaged to conduct economic analyses in connection with allegations that Amaranth Advisors and its head natural gas trader, Brian Hunter, attempted to manipulate settlement prices of NYMEX futures contracts for delivery of natural gas to the Henry Hub. The alleged manipulation occurred during the months of February, April, and May of 2006. Brattle’s analysis included using company, NYMEX, and ICE trading records to recreate Amaranth’s NYMEX and off-NYMEX natural gas positions over time, to calculate profit-and-loss on Amaranth’s trading, to carry out econometric analysis of price movements across multiple natural gas futures contracts over time, and to examine how Amaranth’s trading fit into the overall trading taking place on the NYMEX and on ICE, the primary off-NYMEX platform where Amaranth traded natural gas contracts.
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