The abrupt closure of K-Ratio’s fuel hedging program in late June has left trucking companies scrambling as they await answers from the Chicago-based company as to what happened and when or if participating carriers will recoup money owed to them for June settlements and if they will be reimbursed for future fuel swap option contracts they paid cash to lock in fuel prices into 2022.
K-Ratio is asking carriers that participated in its fuel program to sign a universal settlement agreement, according to one Midwestern carrier that says it is owed over $100,000 for June but has not been paid.
“Two days before we were supposed to receive our June settlement, we were notified that it wasn’t going to happen,” a source, who didn’t want to be named, told FreightWaves. “K-Ratio has this universal settlement agreement they’re trying to get everybody to sign with some type of veiled threat that if you don’t sign it and you were able to make money off this program, that you’ll have to give all that money back.”
A K-Ratio spokesperson confirmed that it ended its fuel futures program, but was vague on the details of what happened.
“As a result of an internal audit of the K-Ratio X, LLC fuel protection program, we recently discovered that insufficient hedging appears to have been conducted,” the K-Ratio spokesperson told FreightWaves. “The person that was responsible for operating and managing the fuel protection program was promptly placed on administrative leave and his relationship with K-Ratio has since been terminated. The consequences of this person’s actions were limited to the fuel protection program only.
“Our top priority has been to quickly notify the affected parties of the situation and to be transparent about our proposed remediation plan, while following applicable laws. We promptly self-reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities after discovering the apparent insufficiency in hedging and have been cooperating with them through their examination process. We remain in discussions with the affected parties regarding a potential resolution with the goal of resolving this matter as quickly as possible.”
Kyle Lintner, who served as the principal and managing director of K-Ratio’s fuel futures program, confirmed to FreightWaves that his independent contractor agreement was terminated but said he wasn’t given a reason by the company.
“I have nothing to hide and I don’t want to sling mud at anyone through the media,” Lintner told FreightWaves. “Every day, the higher-ups at K-Ratio were included on a distribution list that showed all futures transactions.”
Lintner appeared on several of FreightWaves’ media platforms prior to his June 23 firing.
“Kyle Lintner was a regular unpaid contributor to FreightWaves media. He will not be utilized in future FreightWaves media pending final resolution of the matters discussed in this article,” a FreightWaves spokesperson said.
Prior to its closure, K-Ratio’s Fuel Protection Program allowed trucking companies to customize the number of gallons of fuel on a monthly basis, according to the company’s website. Trucking companies said the lure of this program was that it provided “protection against rising prices while not anchoring you to a fixed price, should prices decrease.”
Carriers said they were free to select any fuel stations and there was no requirement for receipts or invoices, no diesel would be delivered to their business, and companies were able to refill their tanks at any fueling location.
K-Ratio told FreightWaves it self-reported the matter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association (NFA). The NFA is conducting an examination with which K-Ratio has been cooperating.
Lintner said he is also cooperating with NFA examiners. Trucking companies said they have also received letters from the NFA inquiring about their relationship with K-Ratio and wanting to set up a time to talk as part of the examination process.
“It’s our policy not to comment on current examinations that we’re conducting,” Christie Hillsman, communications director for NFA, told FreightWaves.
“K-Ratio is currently a member and currently on withdrawal hold, so it’s in the process of withdrawing, but because there is a current examination underway, essentially that examination needs to be finalized and completed before they can withdraw,” she said.
Hillsman said there’s no set timeline for when the examination into K-Ratio’s fuel futures program will be completed.
One carrier that received the letter told FreightWaves it wished K-Ratio would be more transparent during this process and that being kept in the dark is unnerving.
“If there’s been a mistake or something was mishandled, just tell us,” a source told FreightWaves. “It’s easier to forgive if you know what’s going on, but when you’ve invested a lot of money in a fuel swap program and then your only communication is through K-Ratio’s attorneys, it’s very frustrating.”
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