* First formal meeting of group probing possible fraud
* Attorney General Holder to make opening remarks
By Jeremy Pelofsky
WASHINGTON, April 29 An Obama administration
panel set up to investigate possible fraud and manipulation in
the energy markets will meet for the first time on Monday as
prices at the gasoline pumps soar and pressure for action
The group will convene at the U.S. Justice Department at 10
a.m. (1400 GMT), and Attorney General Eric Holder will make
opening remarks before members go behind closed doors to begin
their work, the department said.
The national price for regular unleaded gasoline rose 3.5
cents to $3.88 in the week through Monday, increasing pressure
on Obama just as his presidential re-election bid gets
The group will look into whether there were any illicit
activities in the energy markets. This week Holder told
reporters that he saw some "disturbing" things but declined to
say what were his specific concerns.
Previous administrations have created task forces to
investigate possible manipulation and fraud in the energy
markets, but none has resulted in any significant cases or
"Clearly gas prices rise and fall, there are market factors
that are always I think a part of that," Holder told reporters
on Tuesday. "The question is whether or not it's something
beyond that, and that's why the task force was formed."
The group, announced a week ago, includes representatives
from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal
Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, Securities and
Exchange Commission and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy,
Justice and Treasury.
Part of the administration's broader Financial Fraud Task
Force, it will focus on any manipulation of oil and gas prices,
collusion, fraud or other violations of state and federal laws,
among other things.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)