Drunk oil trader banned and fined

Drunk oil trader banned and fined

An oil trader who bought seven million barrels of crude in the early hours after "extremely heavy drinking" has been banned and fined by the FSA.

Steven Noel Perkins has been barred from working in the financial services industry for at least five years on the grounds he is not a fit and proper person and fined £72,000 for market abuse.

Perkins, a former oil futures broker at PMV, carried out the trades on his laptop, at home, in the early hours of Tuesday 30 June last year. He used WebICE, IntercontinentalExchange's browser-based front-end for its e-trading platform, to carry them out, purportedly on behalf of a client but without authorisation.

The $520 million bet made by Perkins pushed the price of Brent up to more than $73 a barrel, an "abnormal and artificial level" says the watchdog.

When questioned about the trades later that morning by his employer, Perkins initially lied repeatedly in an attempt to cover up his unauthorised actions.

He subsequently claimed to have drunk "heavily" throughout the previous weekend and from around midday on the Monday, leaving him "in an alcohol induced blackout at the time he traded".

Immediately following this incident, Perkins joined a rehabilitation programme for alcoholics and he has stopped drinking.

Alexander Justham, director, markets, FSA, says: "Perkins' drunkenness does not excuse his market abuse. Perkins has been banned because he is not a fit and proper person to be involved in regulated activities and his behaviour posed a risk to the proper functioning of the market."

The case has led to calls from vendors for better pre-trade risk management technology to be put into place to help catch unusual activity.

"Such a trade, so unusual in the volume and the time at which it was made, should not have made it through to the market. It should have been caught and prevented. This case provides a stark example of the risk that both trading firms and markets themselves run when pre-trade risk technology is not in place," says Giles Nelson, deputy CTO, Progress Software.

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 30 June, 2010, 12:16Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I don't think the OP meant "$73 million a barrel". That would indeed be quite an extraordinary price.

Matt White
Matt White - Finextra - Toronto 30 June, 2010, 12:21Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

No Ben, I didn't - has been fixed (I'm not drunk).