By Sabela Ojea

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday ordered global commodities trader Trafigura Trading to pay a $55 million civil monetary penalty for misappropriating material non-public information and engaging in manipulative conduct that affected published benchmark rates.

The U.S. financial markets regulator on Monday said that, from 2014 to April 2019, Trafigura directly and through intermediaries improperly obtained non-public information material to the gasoline market from a Mexican trading entity employee in breach of the employer's rules.

Trafigura received pricing formulas used to sell its physical gasoline to another trading entity in Mexico, the CFTC said.

Regulators said that in 2017, the company manipulated a fuel oil benchmark to benefit its futures and swaps positions, including derivatives traded on U.S. registered entities.

Overall between 2017 and 2020, Trafigura required current employees and former employees to sign non-disclosure provisions, which illegally impeded them from voluntarily communicating with Division of Enforcement staff during the investigation, the CFTC added.

Trafigura said in a separate statement that the payment to settle the CFTC's investigation neither admits nor denies the accusations and that it has voluntarily undertaken significant steps to enhance its compliance program. The company also said that it has agreed to modify non-disclosure provisions in its employment, termination, and severance agreements to make clear that nothing would prevent employees or former employees to communicate with governmental authorities about potential violations of law.

"This enforcement action is yet another example of the CFTC's commitment to ensuring the derivatives markets remain free from trading abuses that undermine their integrity," said Ian McGinley, the CFTC's director of enforcement.

Write to Sabela Ojea at; @sabelaojeaguix

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-17-24 1413ET