Duke Energy, the number two US utility owner, received subpoenas for trading records as authorities widened probes of sham transactions in natural gas and electricity. Duke shares fell 11 percent, their biggest drop in almost fifteen years.
The requests for documents came from the US Attorney's Office in Houston, as part of a grand jury investigation, and from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Duke said in a statement. Prosecutors have previously sought trading records from Dynegy, Reliant Energy and CMS Energy Corp.
Duke, like some rivals, has admitted engaging in so-called “round-trip” trades. It included about $1.1 billion of such trades, which have no economic benefit, in its financial statements over three years. In California, allegations of manipulation of the energy market led Governor Gray Davis to demand Duke and other power suppliers refund $8.9 billion.
“Any day you receive a subpoena from a federal prosecutor is not going to be a good day for your stock,” said Timothy O'Brien, who has been selling Duke shares from the $245 million he manages in the Evergreen Utility and Telecommunications Fund since April. “Duke is one of the largest and most successful energy traders in the country, and they've caught the gangrene of the trading scandal.”
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