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Holder to oil fraud panel: Report if gas prices don't fall

By Terry Frieden, CNN Senior Justice Department Producer
  • The task force was formed to look for fraud or manipulation in market prices
  • Now that oil prices have slipped, gasoline prices should, too, Holder says
  • "I am directing the working group to focus on this area," he says

Washington (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday ordered the newly formed government working group investigating oil and gas prices to make sure gasoline prices are dropping after this week's sudden decline in crude oil prices.

In a statement issued at the Justice Department, Holder made clear he wants the multiple-agency task force to be alert for fraud both when oil prices are rising and when they are falling.

"This working group was created to identify whether fraud or manipulation played any role in the wholesale and retail markets as prices increased. If wholesale prices continue to decrease, fraud or manipulation must not be allowed to prevent price decreases from being passed on to consumers at the pump," Holder said.

"Therefore I am directing the working group to focus on this area and be prepared to report on any developments," he said.

Holder sent his memo to several federal agencies, including the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the departments of Treasury, Energy and Agriculture. He also sent the directive to state attorneys general.

The task force met for the first time Monday at the Justice Department.