New laws give energy regulators across the UK powers to prosecute people suspected of abusing the energy market.
Anyone found guilty of rigging wholesale gas and electricity prices could face up to two years in jail under new regulations which come into force on 13 April 2015.
The new laws make it a criminal offence to fix the price of energy at a false level or use inside information to buy or sell wholesale energy products. It is also now an offence to make misleading claims or conceal facts about wholesale energy prices to manipulate the market.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:
“Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable – which is why we’re introducing the strongest possible sanctions, including prison sentences”.
“Tougher penalties will help to create a fairer and stronger market, providing more protection for bill payers and building on action we’ve already taken to increase competition, drive down bills and make it easier and quicker than ever for consumers to switch energy suppliers.”
Under earlier regulations in 2013 the energy regulator, Ofgem, already can investigate and fine people found breaching the market rules. Upgrading available penalties to include criminal sanctions mean a person found cheating the wholesale energy market could also be sent to prison and be slapped with a criminal record. In addition, companies found abusing the wholesale energy market could also suffer criminal sanctions.