Trafigura Beheer BV’s top executive in Beijing was detained by police in China, according to people familiar with the matter, as a probe into gasoline trading expands.
Li Bo, a Singaporean citizen who heads Trafigura’s representative office in the Chinese capital, was arrested at Beijing airport on the evening of June 1, said one of the people who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. Li, who hasn’t been charged, was preparing to depart on a business trip to Singapore when he was arrested by officials from the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau.
The arrest marks the escalation of a commercial dispute between the world’s third-biggest independent oil trader and several Chinese companies over an alleged $32 million fraud involving gasoline trading, one of the people said.
Another Trafigura employee who is part of the company’s oil-marketing team, Tian Meng, was arrested last year and held without charge in Cangzhou in China’s eastern Hebei province for alleged involvement in the matter. An employee of Qingdao United Energy, a local trading company, was also arrested last year.
Trafigura, based in Amsterdam, is seeking to raise the matter with Chinese officials to secure the release of Li, one of the people said.
Victoria Dix, a spokeswoman for Trafigura in Geneva, declined to comment. No one answered five phone calls to the home of a person named Li Bo in Singapore. An official at the Cangzhou public security bureau’s propaganda office, who declined to give his name, declined to comment.