Congress Seeks to Close the ‘Enron Loophole’

By Jennifer Parker

May 15, 2008 1:22pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Ken Lay has been dead almost two years and Jeffrey Skilling is several years into his 24 year prison sentence, but one legacy of the Enron era lives on.

It’s the "Enron loophole," which exempts energy speculators who make trades electronically from US regulation. Some argue that the unregulated energy speculation, codified in 2000, can account for $20 to $25 in the jump in oil prices.

But now, 8 years after energy traders were able to push legislation exempting their electronic trades of energy futures from US regulation, a measure in the Farm Bill aims to close the loophole and subject futures trades made electronically inside the United States to US law.

“This bill is really our best bet to deter unscrupulous traders from manipulating energy prices and engaging in excessive speculation. This has been a long, hard road – and this is a major legislative victory," Said California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein after the Senate passed the underlying Farm Bill on a broad, bipartisan basis.

Specifically, according to her office, the bill would "require electronic energy traders to provide an audit trail and record-keeping, monitor for market manipulation, and increase financial penalties for cases of market manipulation and excessive speculation."

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