Probe continues into Singapore naphtha trader's falsified records

SINGAPORE – A probe into a US$81 million loss by a Singapore-based energy trader continues. The trader is alleged to be Noriyuki Yamazaki by local newspapers, but Mitsui Oil Asia, and its parent company, Japan-based Mitsui, declined to name the trader involved.

The financial services conglomerate revealed in November that a naphtha trader in its Singapore office had falsified data to conceal $81 million of losses from wrong bets made on naphtha futures since early in 2006.

Mitsui Oil Asia – which had been involved in more than half of all trades in Tokyo open-specification naphtha, the benchmark forward contract for the product – has been laying low in the Singapore market since November, according to local press reports. However, activity in the naphtha contract in Hong Kong and Japan in February signalled to market participants that Mitsui may be trying to trade out of its existing positions.

Mitsui announced in mid-January that it is planning to shut the Mitsui Oil Asia subsidiary as soon as it can clear out the existing positions, possibly as early as April or May.

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