London court hearing in $577 million Trafigura nickel case due Friday By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chairman of UD Group Prateek Gupta poses in his Singapore office December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su//File Photo


LONDON (Reuters) – A London court is due to hold a hearing on Friday about a $625 million global freezing order imposed on Indian businessman Prateek Gupta and a web of firms he controls.

Trafigura, which sought the order, said on Feb. 9 that it had booked a $577 million charge relating to what it alleges is “systematic fraud” by Gupta’s companies over nickel cargoes.

A lawyer in Singapore representing Gupta and one of his companies has previously declined to comment, saying his client would respond in court.

Reuters emailed some of the companies involved, but did not receive a response.

A High Court judge in London imposed a freezing order on bank accounts and other assets tied to Gupta and seven Gupta-controlled companies, including those in Britain, Singapore, Malaysia and Switzerland, which was dated Feb. 8.

Trafigura had told the judge in a closed-door hearing that some of the first containers inspected were found to contain carbon steel, which is worth a fraction of the price of nickel.

It said in court papers it began to suspect in October last year that around 25,000 tonnes of metal sold by Gupta’s firms may not be high-grade nickel, and began inspecting more than 1,000 shipping containers.

Trafigura ended up inspecting 156 out of 1,104 containers by the time it filed court papers, none of which contained nickel.