Mooney quits Trafigura to launch Merrill fund of funds

Merrill would not divulge the amount of capital to be made available to Mooney in his new role. Trafigura declined comment on whether it had found a replacement for Mooney.

Mooney joined Trafigura in May 2003 from Bank of America, where he was the long-serving head of commodity derivatives. Speaking at the time, Mooney said he had chosen bypass opportunities to establish energy trading desks for other banks and intended to work purely in commodities rather than commodity derivatives.

"Commodity derivatives have lost their romance for me," Mooney said. "Before BoA, I headed Citibank's commodity derivatives desk and I didn't want to do the same job at three different firms," Mooney added.

A Merrill Lynch official told RiskNews' sister publication Energy Risk that Mooney's work would be completely separated from the bank's other energy trading activities to avoid conflict of interest.

Merrill Lynch re-launched its energy desk last year. The firm hired Scott Kerson, formerly head of commodity marketing for the Americas at Deutsche Bank in New York, to head energy marketing in August 2003. And Kuljinder Chase, previously head of energy trading at Allegheny, joined Merrill Lynch in May 2003 as head of its natural gas and oil trading business.

But the re-launch has been over-shadowed by the firm's past record in energy trading, market participants note. Daniel Gordon, who previously headed Merrill Lynch Global Energy Markets last year, pleaded guilty to a $43 million fraud. He now faces a prison term of 55 years and fines of $1.25 million for three charges, which include conspiracy to falsify books and records.

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