Trafigura Group announced that Chief Operating Officer Mike Wainwright will leave next year, the first indication of a changing of the guard among the trading house’s senior leaders, who are also its biggest shareholders.
Wainwright, one of the three most powerful executives at Trafigura, will leave at the end of March 2024. Along with Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Weir and Co-Head of Oil Trading Jose Larocca, he was part of the top trio who stepped up to run the company after founder Claude Dauphin died in 2015.
Trafigura did not provide a reason for Wainwright’s departure, which comes as the trading house is wading through the fallout after falling victim to an alleged nickel fraud. The company announced in February it was facing losses of nearly $600 million after finding that cargoes of nickel it had bought didn’t contain any nickel. It is taking legal action against Prateek Gupta, the Indian businessman it accuses of perpetrating a “systematic fraud.”
Trafigura has said it doesn’t believe that any of its employees were complicit in the alleged fraud. A spokesman for Gupta has said that he is planning a “robust response” to the allegations.
Since the saga was made public, Bloomberg has previously reported the departures of Trafigura’s nickel and cobalt trading head, a senior metals trader in Mumbai, and the head of metals operations.
Wainwright, 49, joined Trafigura in 1996 as an oil accounts assistant, three years after it was founded by a group of former Marc Rich traders. Since then the company has established itself as one of the world’s biggest independent commodities trading houses, moving over 400 million tons of oil, gas, metals and minerals per year.
The company and its rivals have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the disruptions wrought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, generating massive profits after commodity prices soared last year.
As COO, Wainwright spearheaded the shift of Trafigura’s middle-office functions — the teams that manage the operational logistics of a physical trade, such as handling legal paperwork, hedging or shipping — away from trading floors in Geneva and Singapore to cheaper hubs in cities like Mumbai and Montevideo. He has also overseen a major investment in Trafigura’s IT systems, with the introduction over the past few years of a platform called Titan.
Off the trading floor, Wainwright is a keen endurance driver, having competed in the famed Le Mans 24 Hour race.
Published at Fri, 07 Apr 2023 09:53:12 -0700