Geneva Oil Trader Competes in Rio

Jose Larocca, Trafigura oil trading head, in an equestrian competition

A billionaire Swiss-born oil trader at Geneva-based Trafigura is competing in the Rio Olympics as an equestrian jumper, finews.ch has learned. He is competing under the flag of Argentina. 

Jose Larocca, 47 years old, is part of a new crop of oil traders who have taken over in recent years from the founders of privately-held commodities firm Trafigura, the world's third-largest private oil and metals trader. 

The world's third-largest private oil and metals trader rebalanced its share ownership more than two years ago to make room for a new generation of would-be billionaires after the founding partners withdrew.

Larocca was born in Switzerland but spent his formative years in Argentina. He didn't begin jumping competitively until he was 34, according to his sports biography, where he lists his profession as «athlete», not trader.

From 258th to Olympic Medal?

Larocca, head of oil trading at Trafigura since 2007, ranks 258th as a jumper, but he doesn't lack ambition: his goal is to win an Olympic medal, according to his sports biography. 

He's using his oil money to inch closer to his dream: Larocca rose to prominence in riding circles in 2010, when he spent millions according to horse breeding experts to buy Oki Doki, a Dutch-bred gelding which had been named horse of the year by a prominent breeding association three years earlier.

Jose Larocca Trafigura

Larocca (pictured above) had planned to ride Oki Doki in the London Olympics four years ago, but the horse died suddenly in 2010 in Geneva from septic shock linked to surgical complications following a hamstring injury sustained in competition.

Employer Keeps Low Profile

Trafigura was mum about Larocca's sporting ambitions, telling finews.ch that «he keeps that part of his life separate from his working life.»

The firm has expanded into other natural resources in recent years, but oil – led by Larocca – remains at the heart of the firm, which was founded in 1993 by Claude Dauphin, a protege of legendary oil trader and U.S. fugitive Marc Rich, and five partners.

«We have many desk heads across the barrel who are responsible for our day to day trading activity,» the Trafigura spokeswoman said of Larocca's absence during the Olympics.

Family Ties

Larocca's net worth is estimated to be between 100 and 200 million Swiss francs in an annual compilation of Switzerland's wealthiest by «Bilanz» magazine.

His son, Matias, has also ridden in junior equestrian competitions, and an uncle competed in five Olympic Games from 1956 to 1972.

Despite his Swiss ties, Larocca said «I jump with the Argentina flag in my jacket pocket. All my equipment has the flag of Argentina on it.»

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