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By Javier Blas and Izabella Kaminska in London
July 2 2009

The startling spike in oil prices to their highest level this year on 
Tuesday was caused by a rogue broker who placed a massive bet in the 
Brent oil market, triggering almost $10m (=E2=82=AC7m) of losses for his 

PVM Oil Associates, the world=E2=80=99s largest over-the-counter oil brokerage, 
said on Thursday it had been the =E2=80=9Cvictim of unauthorised trading=E2=80=9D. The 
privately owned company said that as a result of the unauthorised trades 
it had been forced to close substantial volumes of futures contracts at 
a loss.

London-based PVM said it had informed the Financial Services Authority, 
the UK regulator. But officials at the Commodity Futures Trading 
Commission, the US regulator, claimed they had been kept in the dark for 
several hours in spite of an agreement between the watchdogs last year 
to exchange such market-sensitive information spontaneously.

Oil traders in London and New York said the =E2=80=9Cunauthorised trading=E2=80=9D 
explained the exceptional spike in business activity and prices in the 
early hours of Tuesday that some initially thought must have been caused 
by a geopolitical event. =E2=80=9CTrading volumes rose overnight and prices 
jumped more than $2 a barrel without apparent justification,=E2=80=9D a senior 
oil trader in New York said.


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