Rome

Top petrol companies probed over pump prices in Italy

Shell, Tamoil, ENI, ESSO, Total among companies investigated

Top petrol companies probed over pump prices in Italy

Rome, April 4 - Petrol companies Shell, Tamoil, ENI, ESSO, Total Erg, Q8 and Api are being investigated by Italian finance police and prosecutors in the northern town of Varese over alleged illegal fuel-price increases. The probe concerns accusations of price fixing and fraud brought up one year ago in an expose' by Italian consumer association Codacons, covering the period of January 2011 to March 2012. Investigators used internal records from the fuel providers and compared them to companies elsewhere in Europe, where prices are lower. They concluded that the source of the price hikes was linked to petrol companies' investment funds in commodities such as oil, copper, silver and gold, as well as in exchange traded funds (ETFs), all of which were highly susceptible to speculation. Prices were also affected by investments in derivatives used to artificially inflate the cost of crude, investigators said. Petrol companies have consistently defended their pricing policies in Italy, arguing that they reflect international costs.

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