US reopens copper trader death inquiry

The Sumitomo copper scandal took on a potentially more gruesome turn yesterday after US police confirmed they were reopening their investigation into the death of a "whistleblower" in the case.

The news came as the giant Japanese trading house denied that eventual losses from unauthorised copper dealing could reach $4bn (pounds 2.6bn), but said it would would appoint independent accounting and legal experts to assist in internal investigations into the $1.8bn loss.

Police in Vermont announced they would look again at the death of Paul Scully, a copper trader, shortly after he had voiced concerns about Yasuo Hamanaka, the Sumitomo trader at the centre of the scandal.

Mr Scully was killed when fire swept through his Vermont home five years ago. A police inquiry at the time failed to determine the exact cause of the fire, which burned Mr Scully beyond recognition. A final report suggested only that a burning cigarette may have been to blame.

Mr Scully had worked for the trading firm DLT Inc, whose chairman, David Threlkeld, has emerged as a putative hero in the Sumitomo scandal. Mr Threlkeld has claimed that he warned the London Metal Exchange in 1991 of his suspicions that Mr Hamanaka was conducting phoney copper trades.

The first hint of trouble came after he received memos from Mr Scully pointing out several problems with trades executed by Mr Hamanaka.

Separately, Sumitomo said that, as well as appointing outside experts to assist enquiries into losses, it would start rotating traders every few years to prevent them acquiring too much influence in a particular section.

Managers of commodity trading sections will be prevented from staying in their posts for more than four years, while their subordinates will be able to stay no longer than three years.

The reverberations of the scandal continued to hit copper prices, which yesterday tested lows not seen for more than two years.

In New York, the metal fell to a 28-month low in brisk early trade, after tumbling on the London Metal Exchange. Three months' copper settled at $1,788 in London, down $102 from Friday's close, after touching $1,785 at one stage, a level last reached two and a half years ago.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back