Torbjorn Tornqvist
A file photograph of Gunvor Group boss Torbjorn Tornqvist Reuters

Trading giant Gunvor Group has reportedly decided to abandon trading in physical precious metals less than a year after it started a business devoted to buying and selling gold.

Gunvor executives have decided to give up the precious metals trading business partly because of difficulties in sourcing steady supplies of gold, where the origin could be well documented, Bloomberg reported.

Gunvor, the world's fifth-largest oil trader, will continue to trade base metals including copper and aluminum, alongside commodities such as iron ore, coal and natural gas.

Traders Depart

Gold trading at Gunvor was carried out by a handful of people in Singapore and Geneva.

The report said at least two traders were leaving the company: Cedric Chanu, who started in Singapore in January as a precious-metals trader; and Francois Beuzelin, hired in 2012 as head of metals in Geneva.

Pursued by Bloomberg, Seth Pietras, the firm's spokesman in the Swiss city, refused to comment.

Chanu refused to comment while Beuzelin did not take calls at his office nor responded to an email.

Geneva-headquartered Gunvor's exit from physical precious metals follows a similar move by Deutsche Bank, which announced its departure in November.

In March, the US placed sanctions on Gunvor co-founder Gennady Timchenko, with the US Treasury Department alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin was an investor in the company.

Timchenko sold 44% of his stake in the company to co-founder Torbjorn Tornqvist the day before he was sanctioned.

The commodity house's announcement earlier in the year that it would physically trade in precious metals was odd as neither Glencore, the biggest metals trader, nor Trafigura Beheer, the second-largest, trade physical gold.