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(LEAD) SK Energy Americas sued over alleged price gouging in California

All News 23:00 May 05, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by SK Innovation; ADDS logo of SK Innovation)

SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) -- SK Energy Americas Inc. and its parent, South Korean firm SK Trading International Co., have been sued in the U.S. State of California for allegedly running a scheme with Dutch energy company Vitol to drive up prices at the gas pump.

The three gasoline trading firms are accused of running the scheme to manipulate, raise, fix, and tamper with the spot market price of gasoline in California, and reaching a deal to share profits and disguise or hide the nature of the scheme from February 2015 to late 2016.

The three "participated in a scheme to drive up and manipulate the spot market price for gasoline so that they could realize windfall profits" on large contracts to deliver gasoline and gasoline blending components, according to a complaint filed with the superior court in San Francisco on Monday.

SK Innovation's corporate logo (Yonhap)

The gasoline trading firms ran the scheme by taking advantage of a sudden undersupply of refined gasoline following a 2015 explosion at the ExxonMobil Torrance refinery complex in Torrance, California.

The ExxonMobil refinery supplied about 10 percent of all the gasoline in California.

SK Innovation Co., the ultimate parent entity for SK Energy Americas and SK Trading International Co., expressed regret over the lawsuit and said the two companies will make efforts to prove there was no wrongdoing.

entropy@yna.co.kr
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