Top Senate Dems call on CFTC to share trader data

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Senate Democrats are calling on the acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to speed up the sharing of trader information with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to prevent energy market manipulation.

Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and other top senators called on CFTC acting Chairman Mark Wetjen in a letter last week to share the data in compliance with the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which was enacted in 2010.

“Information sharing between CFTC and FERC has been delayed for too long, putting our energy markets at risk of abuse unnecessarily,” the senators wrote.

Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington, Barbara Boxer of California, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Carl Levin of Michigan also signed the letter.

At issue is a long-overdue agreement that acting FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur reached with former CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler last month, which lays out a process for the agencies to share market surveillance information and other data related to the gas and electricity financial markets.

It also provides a path for the agencies to avoid duplicative information requests and coordinate oversight, investigations and enforcement activities related to such sharing (Greenwire, Jan. 3).

Vince McGonagle, director of the CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight, told a Senate Banking subcommittee last month that his agency was tackling technical issues related to sharing large trader data with FERC, adding that concerns over confidentiality lingered (E&E Daily, Jan. 16).

The Democrats called on Wetjen to resolve the issue.

“Considering the CFTC’s technical ability to share data with other nations and other regulators, we believe that technical barriers preventing the sharing of information with FERC — a fellow arm of the federal government — could be addressed and solved in a matter of weeks under your direction and leadership,” they wrote.

The senators asked Wetjen to explain what funds were needed to address the technical issues in the agency’s fiscal 2014 spending plan, which is due Monday.