Singapore-based company alleges it has been scammed US$577m by Indian businessman

Singapore-based company alleges it has been scammed US$577m by Indian businessman

SINGAPORE — A Singapore-based commodity trader Trafigura said on Thursday (9 Feb 2023) that they have been scammed by Indian businessman Prateek Gupta.

It booked a US$577 million charge in the first half of 2023, after discovering that some nickel cargoes it received did not contain nickel in a case of “systematic fraud”.

It said the fraud was committed by a group of companies connected to and controlled by Indian businessman Prateek Gupta, including TMT Metals and companies owned by Gupta’s UD Trading Group.

Trafigura had begun legal proceedings against Gupta and his companies.

“We have only inspected approximately 10 per cent of the inventory so far,” the company spokesperson said. “There were a number of red flags such as an increase in sailing time.”

Trafigura has spent the past two months uncovering what it believes is a systematic fraud perpetrated by Gupta’s companies.

The trade began to unravel when Trafigura investigators arrived at the port of Rotterdam just before Christmas to check the contents of a container that was meant to hold nickel. When they cracked it open, it was full of much lower-value materials.

“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,” Trafigura said. “The majority of the shipments remain in transit awaiting further inspection.”

Trafigura Group is a Singaporean-based French multinational commodity trading company founded in 1993 that trades in base metals and energy. It is the world’s largest private metals trader and second-largest oil trader. The group’s main operating offices are in Singapore and Geneva.

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