Energy: The Hustling Price Gougers

Fast deals, broken contracts and big profits

Riding on a lot of contacts, a line of credit and sheer gall, a troupe of about 300 international profiteers have become the principal beneficiaries of the galloping oil price increases that occur daily on the "spot market." They are the mysterious players in a loose old-boy network of private investors, former oil executives, foreign government officials, Arab sheiks and assorted middlemen, brokers and hustlers. "Many of them," says Joe Roeber, a London-based analyst of the spot market, "got out of trading used tires or razor blades or whatever else they were doing to start...

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