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Oil Probe Documents Case to Be Considered Dec. 5, Court Says

The court-directed disclosure of oil-trading records and other documents from a six-year U.S. probe will be delayed until at least Dec. 5 when an appeals court will consider speeding its review of the order.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York today set a new date for hearing motions by oil traders including Morgan Stanley and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in favor of an expedited appeal and for an order delaying disclosure of the records until the appeals court rules.

The oil traders asked U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley to block the release of millions of records gathered by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as part of a probe begun in December 2007. The judge ruled Oct. 25 that they may be turned over and restricted access to the most sensitive material.

The files include e-mails, depositions, trading records and audio files.

The CFTC on May 24, 2011, accused Parnon Energy Inc., which is controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, of manipulating the prices of West Texas Intermediate crude. Two days later, a private plaintiff sued Parnon, seeking to represent a class of everyone who traded in WTI derivative contracts from Dec. 1, 2007, until at least May 31, 2008.

Pauley hasn’t yet ruled whether he’ll let the case proceed as a class action.

The case is In Re Crude Oil Commodity Futures Litigation, 11-cv-03600. The CFTC case is U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Parnon Energy Inc., 11-cv-3543, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The appeal is U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Parnon Energy Inc., 13-04206, Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan).

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