Trafigura has named two new co-heads of its nickel, cobalt and lithium trading division, weeks after the commodity trader claimed it had fallen victim to a nickel fraud that could cost it US$577mn.

GTR understands that Mehdi Wetterwald and Daniel von Arx will replace Socrates Economou, whose departure from the company was reported earlier this month.

Both Trafigura veterans, von Arx has been with the company for over 13 years, previously working as a lead and zinc trader, while Wetterwald was formerly a senior nickel and cobalt trader who joined Trafigura in 2012.

In 2016, Economou was appointed head of nickel and cobalt trading with a remit to develop the firm’s trading books and take advantage of increased demand for the metals.

Economou first joined Trafigura’s metals and minerals division in 2007, initially working in Johannesburg, where he developed the company’s copper and cobalt business. Other roles include head of refined metals for China.

This month, Trafigura revealed it was at risk of losing more than half a billion dollars after falling victim to a “systematic fraud” allegedly carried out by a group of commodity traders, including London-headquartered TMT Metals.

Trafigura says that a “small proportion” of containers purchased from these companies “were found not to contain nickel”.

The business is taking legal action against former TMT Metals director Prateek Gupta, as well as a group of companies connected to the Indian businessman, including TMT and unnamed companies owned by UD Trading Group.

It says there is no evidence that any Trafigura employees were complicit in the alleged illegal activity.