Former Texas Energy Executive Pleads Guilty to Kickback and Insider Trading Schemes

Emma Grant

Houston’s oil business was shaken by corporate greed and market manipulation. Former Texas energy business president Matthew Clark pleaded guilty to a kickback conspiracy and a natural gas futures insider trading fraud.

Court filings show Clark conspired to steer his employer’s trades to Matthew Webb’s Classic Energy LLC brokerage firm. Clark got about $5.5 million in unlawful payments from Classic Energy commission fees.

Matthew Clark received approximately $5.5 million in illicit bribes to shift his company’s commodities trading business to a broker. “He also stole confidential information about his company’s planned commodities trades to enrich himself and his co-conspirators,” said Nicole M. Argentieri, Justice Department Criminal Division Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

Clark continued his illegal operations. He stole his employer’s nonpublic information and traded banned commodities.

Webb, John Ed James, and Peter Miller planned illicit natural gas futures deals and divided the gains in a complicated arrangement.

The FBI Houston Field Office, which led this landmark investigation, stressed its importance. “Securities and commodities fraud may be a non-violent crime, but it’s certainly not victimless – it damages the public’s confidence in the U.S. markets and stacks the deck against fair traders and investors,” said the Special Agent in Charge.

Clark could get 20 years for honest services wire fraud conspiracy and 10 years for prohibited commodities transaction and insider trading. Webb, James, Miller, Marcus Schultz, and Lee Tippett, his co-conspirators, have pled guilty and await punishment.

This case highlights the dangers of corporate greed and the need to protect financial markets. As Alamdar S. Hamdani, U.S. “The natural gas futures contract market is an integral part of Houston’s economy, and to preserve the integrity of that system, it is important that commodity traders who buy and sell those contracts not engage in illegal and unfair practices.”

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