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Trafigura Settles Billionaire Reuben Brothers’ Nickel Fraud Suit


(Bloomberg) — Commodity trader Trafigura Group has settled a London lawsuit brought by the billionaire Reuben brothers after selling them a cargo of “nickel” that was part of a high-profile fraud.

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Trafigura is still dealing with the fallout of a massive alleged nickel scam that rocked global metal markets last year, when the trader revealed it had paid nearly $600 million for nickel only to discover that the cargoes actually contained worthless rubble.

The Reuben brothers brought the case through their company Hyphen Trading Ltd., claiming that Trafigura had delivered fraudulent shipping documents when it sold them a cargo of nickel. Hyphen was seeking the $8.4 million it paid for the metal, plus costs and interest.

Trafigura has now settled the case and paid the Reuben brothers, according to people familiar with the matter. A court order dated May 20 shows that the case has been dismissed “by consent.”

A spokesperson for Trafigura confirmed the case had been settled, declining to comment further. A spokesperson for the Reubens declined to comment.

The case centered on 404 tons of nickel that Hyphen bought from Trafigura in September 2022. After struggling to locate the cargo to take delivery, Hyphen alleged that the shipping document — known as a bill of lading — it had received from Trafigura was “likely to be a fraudulent document.”

Trafigura denied that the document was fraudulent, but in an amended defense in January admitted that the goods it sold to Hyphen were “part of the Gupta Fraud and are therefore likely not to be LME grade nickel but are likely instead to be some other cheaper material.”

Hyphen last year brought another legal action against Trafigura in Singapore over a different cargo of nickel, which both companies claimed to own. That case is ongoing.

Meanwhile, Trafigura is continuing its legal battle against Prateek Gupta, the man it accuses of perpetrating the fraud against it. In December, a judge dismissed Gupta’s attempt to lift a freezing order against him, finding he had not provided evidence to support his claim that Trafigura traders knew of the alleged fraud.

–With assistance from Upmanyu Trivedi.

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