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USA:Former El Paso VP Indicted on Bogus Trade Charges

December 3rd, 2002

HOUSTON (Reuters) -- A former vice president and natural gas trader from El Paso Corp. will appear before a U.S. magistrate in Houston on Wednesday to face charges he reported bogus trades to an industry journal in 2001, the prosecutor said.

Todd Geiger was arrested Tuesday to face charges of wire fraud and "knowingly causing the transmission of false trade information" to a natural gas index, said Michael Shelby, U.S. attorney for the southern district of Texas.

The indictment alleges that Geiger, who was responsible for trading on El Paso's Canada desk, fabricated 48 trades and provided them to Inside FERC Gas Market Report on Nov. 30, 2001, he said.

The false trades were discovered in a review of El Paso's natural gas trades by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this year, Shelby said.

If convicted, Geiger could face up to five years in prison. The wire fraud charge also carries a $250,000 fine, Shelby said.

El Paso said in a statement it has been cooperating fully with the federal authorities in the investigation and is conducting an internal review of its submissions to trade publications.

A spokesman for Inside FERC Gas Market Report was not immediately available to comment.

Submissions of trade information are used by trade publications to figure indices of volume and pricing for commodities. The indices are then used to determine the prices for commodities like natural gas.

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