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Jun 30, 2012

Russia and West tussle at Syria peace talks

GENEVA (Reuters) – Russia and Western powers locked horns over a peace plan for Syria on Saturday as U.N. mediator Kofi Annan warned the conflict could spread across the Middle East and beyond.

Foreign ministers and international diplomats were meeting in Geneva with governments still in dispute over whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, condemned in the West but still backed by Russia, could have any role in a political transition.

Jun 27, 2012

Oil firms ignore Swiss loophole on Iran

ZUG, Switzerland (Reuters) – Swiss-based oil firms are not exploiting the lack of a government decision to follow the European Union and impose a ban on Iranian oil and the authorities will closely monitor the situation, the director of a Swiss federal department said.

The Swiss Economics Ministry (SECO) in April postponed a decision on whether to copy the EU’s ban on the importation, purchase or shipping of Iranian oil and has still not taken a position less than a week before the embargo takes full effect.

Jun 27, 2012

Buyer beware of $10 million discounts on Nigerian oil

GENEVA (Reuters) – Little-known firms claiming to have privileged access to prized sweet crude oil from Nigeria are offering to sell it at such deep discounts that traders say the deals are too good to be genuine.

Documents seen by Reuters show spot cargoes of several hundred thousand barrels of crude can be picked up at discounts of up to $10 million.

Jun 26, 2012

BNP Paribas loses two top commodities bankers

GENEVA, June 26 (Reuters) – BNP Paribas has lost
two of its top Geneva-based bankers in commodity trade finance,
the French bank confirmed, dealing a further blow to one of the
sector’s major lenders.

The departures were driven by a perception of diminishing
opportunities within the bank, industry sources said, as
traditional lenders cut lending due to a lack of dollar
financing and new European rules on capital requirements due to
be phased in next year.

Jun 22, 2012

Swiss haven chagrined as commodities traders look East

GENEVA, June 22 (Reuters) – Switzerland’s low corporate
taxes, business-friendly regulations and reputation for
discretion have attracted multinational commodities trading
firms “as a dunghill attracts flies”.

This is how The Berne Declaration – a Swiss NGO which
campaigns to ensure local companies act responsibly – describes
Switzerland’s appeal in a new book that aims to shed light on
the methods of an industry that traditionally prefers to conduct
its business away from the gaze of regulators and journalists.

Jun 14, 2012

Small commodities traders scramble for new lenders

GENEVA (Reuters) – Small and mid-sized commodity traders are scrambling to find new lenders, including Asian and African banks, as dollar funding dries up from the big European banks that have been among their traditional creditors.

Former leaders in commodities finance including BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are retrenching from the financing of transactions such as storing oil or arbitraging copper due to a lack of dollar financing and to capital requirements under stringent new rules known as Basel III.

Jun 14, 2012

Swiss bankers drop holiday plans on fear of arrest

ZURICH/GENEVA, June 14 (Reuters) – Browsing glossy brochures
in search of an exotic and relaxing summer holiday is the norm
for Swiss private bankers at this time of year.

But many will be going no further than the Alps, fretting
that Switzerland’s tax disputes with the United States and other
nations could leave them open to arrest and extradition if they
leave the country and are suspected of aiding tax cheats.

Jun 12, 2012

Trader Gunvor raises $635 mln via Asian banks

GENEVA, June 12 (Reuters) – Cyprus-registered commodities
trader Gunvor said its Singapore branch had signed a $635
million loan agreement with mostly Asian banks, as trading
houses look for new sources of capital amid a retrenchment by
traditional European lenders.

European banks involved in commodity trade finance, such as
market leader BNP Paribas, have cut back lending,
under pressure from new rules requiring them to boost their
capital and from a shortage of dollar liquidity.

Jun 7, 2012

U.S. disappointed by Swiss sanctions on Iran-envoy

GENEVA, June 7 (Reuters) – The United States is disappointed
that Switzerland has not yet adopted the European Union’s
embargo on Iranian oil, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland said,
adding that he did not expect the country to permit a legal
loophole in the long run.

Switzerland, a major physical oil trading hub and base for
Iranian state-owned oil trading firm Naftiran Intertrade
Company, extended an Iran blacklist in April but postponed a
decision on the EU ban until a “later date”.

Jun 1, 2012

Egypt falters on fuel payments, suppliers say

GENEVA/LONDON, June 1 (Reuters) – Egypt has struggled to
obtain bank payments for its fuel purchases, trade sources said,
delaying diesel supplies for transport, industry and agriculture
ahead of the second round of an election vote.

The payment problems have caused shipping delays and
prompted some suppliers to think again before offering oil into
a forthcoming $1 billion import tender, half a dozen trade
sources, including current suppliers, told Reuters.