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Trafigura offered $15mn from alleged nickel fraudster using Mauritian bank

Indian enterprise tycoon Prateek Gupta provided to pay Trafigura $15mn utilizing financing from a Mauritian financial institution underneath scrutiny for its ties to the accused fraudster, in response to courtroom paperwork obtained by the Monetary Instances.

Trafigura, the world’s largest personal metals dealer, this month secured a $625mn freezing order towards Gupta and his enterprise empire in one among London’s greatest ever commodities lawsuits.

The buying and selling home has accused the Dubai-based businessman of perpetrating a “systematic fraud” towards it involving faux nickel cargoes, forcing it to take a $577mn writedown.

Gupta’s metals buying and selling empire spans Europe, the Center East and Asia, whereas Trafigura additionally claims that he seems to have pursuits in a variety of different companies together with power and engineering firms.

The fallout of the case has additionally unfold to Mauritius, the place banking regulators are inspecting Silver Financial institution, one of many nation’s small lenders that has hyperlinks to Gupta.

Silver Financial institution has denied the metals dealer is one among its shareholders and this week instructed the FT it “has no direct or oblique publicity to Mr Gupta or linked firms and people”.

Nevertheless, the lender is more likely to come underneath extra scrutiny over its hyperlinks with the businessman.

In an affidavit filed to London’s Excessive Courtroom this month, Trafigura’s former head nickel dealer Sokratis Oikonomou detailed how Gupta provided up financing from Silver Financial institution as a part of a number of proposals geared toward “repairing the quickly deteriorating buying and selling relationship”.

The connection began to deteriorate when Trafigura first found in November that some nickel containers it had bought contained far much less beneficial metallic as an alternative.

Trafigura, one of many world’s essential conduits for metals buying and selling, has up to now inspected about 156 out of 1,104 containers associated to the alleged fraud. None of them accommodates materials compliant with the contracts, it mentioned.

Oikonomou said Gupta “provided to offer two letters of credit score totalling $15mn from Silver Financial institution” on January 11, earlier than later that month revising it all the way down to $7mn.

Oikonomou added that the pair “subsequently mentioned some draft wording for the needs of the letters of credit score”.

Letters of credit score are one of many key financing instruments that underpin international commerce, offering sellers of products with an assurance {that a} monetary establishment will cowl any shortfall if a purchaser fails to pay.

The affidavit additionally reveals that Gupta claimed to have provided additional letters of credit score to the buying and selling arm of Indonesia mining firm Thoughts ID.

The miner had turn into ensnared within the fiasco when it bought cargoes purporting to comprise nickel from Trafigura that had originated from the metallic dealer’s firms.

“We’ve verbally provided them Silver Financial institution lc [letters of credit] answer,” Gupta instructed Oikonomou in a January WhatsApp message quoted within the affidavit.

In a separate affidavit, a lawyer appearing for Trafigura argued that this sequence of gives “means that Mr Gupta considers that Silver Financial institution will act at his course”.

Silver Financial institution, Gupta and Thoughts ID didn’t reply to requests for remark.

A consultant for Gupta mentioned on Friday that he’s getting ready a “sturdy response” to Trafigura’s allegations and plans to “file an utility to take away the freezing order on or earlier than April 6”.

Silver Financial institution’s sole shareholder is the Cayman Island funding agency Silver Star SPC, which acquired the lender out of conservatorship in October 2021 and injected $40mn of capital to bolster its stability sheet.

Trafigura’s lawyer additionally argues in his affidavit that “Mr Gupta could have some curiosity in Silver Star and/or train management over it” as a result of the metals dealer additionally provided up safety over quite a few its belongings.

Gupta provided Trafigura safety over Singaporean renewable power firm Ultravolt Energy, whose sole shareholder is Silver Star, in response to Oikonomou’s affidavit.

Different belongings had been additionally proposed as a part of a large ranging safety bundle, together with a “mission worth chain options firm referred to as Hangji International Restricted”.

Company filings in Cyprus, the place Hangji’s thinly traded shares are listed, present that Gupta included the corporate in 2015 earlier than its shares had been transferred to a number of offshore automobiles.

Silver Star, Ultravolt and Hangji didn’t reply to requests for remark.


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