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Massive nickel trade fraud alleged

Commodities giant Trafigura has secured court orders to freeze the business activities of a trading company it accuses of ‘a systematic fraud’ by which more than 1 000 containers were allegedly wrongly bought as nickel consignments.

Trafigura claims a group of companies connected to and apparently controlled by Prateek Gupta including TMT Metals and companies owned by UD Trading Group are behind the operation which is said to have cost US$577 (EUR 543 million).

According to Reuters, Gupta’s lawyers say the matter is before the courts and their client will respond in court.

A Trafigura press release says: ‘The fraud concerns containerised nickel in transit during 2022 and involved misrepresentation and presentation of a variety of false documentation. The fraud is isolated to one specific line of business. We have seen no evidence to suggest that anyone at Trafigura was involved or complicit in this illegal activity.

‘A thorough review is ongoing. Since late December 2022, a small proportion of the containers purchased from these companies have been inspected as they reached their destination, and were found not to contain nickel. The majority of the shipments remain in transit awaiting further inspection.’

The release adds the group recorded a the multi-million charge in the first half of 2023. ‘The Group’s net profits in the first half of its 2023 financial year are expected to exceed first half 2022 net profits, notwithstanding this impairment.’

It says it remains committed to building its presence in the fast-growing battery metals markets.

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