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In 2003, international oil conglomerate BP agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine after the commission filed a civil lawsuit alleging crude oil price manipulations similar to those in the current lawsuit. BP admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

And guess who the key players were on BP’s energy trading team? Wildgoose and Dyer.

Dyer ran BP’s oil-trading operation in Chicago. He is reported to have made so much money on commissions that the firm changed future contract conditions for all its traders. Wildgoose was listed as a BP trader until 2004. After the fine, Wildgoose and Dyer left BP without public governmental sanction.

Previously, in 2001, Dyer had garnered attention in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack. He offered the U.S. Department of Energy 750,000 barrels of oil if the government would slow down oil stockpiling. The Bush administration rejected the offer, which was apparently designed to protect oil trader positions.

Upon leaving BP, Dyer, an Englishman, went to Brisbane, Australia, reportedly retiring to a nearly $3 million mansion, where he dabbled in investing in similar coastal properties.

When Arcadia hired Dyer in 2006, the British press heralded his return as it might a star athlete lured out of retirement to boost a sagging sports franchise to a championship.

Wildgoose and his wife Helen sold their suburban Chicago home for $530,000 in 2005; they sold their Lincoln Park townhouse for $3.1 million in January 2007, just before the U.S. economy collapsed.

The year before, the Wildgooses bought their current abode on Via Lago Azul, a newly rebuilt 9850-square-foot house that includes a six-car garage. Coincidentally, it, too, harbors a history touched by irregularities.

In 1995, the property was owned by a now-disbarred attorney who was convicted in federal court here of bank fraud in a $2.4 million house-buying scheme.

As the commission’s litigation ramps up, other court actions are being fired up, too.

Right after the commission filed its lawsuit, the president of the Commodity Floor Brokers and Traders Association in New York, Stephen E. Ardizzone, sued the Wildgoose/Dyer team in federal court in New York. Ardizzone, himself a trader, may convert the civil complaint to a class-action suit to help many traders recover losses from what he alleges are violations of U.S. commodity and monopolization laws. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

And on a potentially more ominous front, the Obama administration in April formed a task force of government agencies to examine possible fraud and manipulation in the oil/gas markets. The Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group includes the U.S. Department of Justice, which can file criminal charges.

Some observers, like van der Valk, the petroleum analyst from Montana, see the commission’s action as a possible squeeze to get the traders to roll over and implicate the big-money players behind the scheme, like, say, Fredriksen? Or a big New York investment bank?

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