| LONDON, March 21
LONDON, March 21 Oil companies reviewed their
dealings with Russian trader Gunvor but did not yet alter
business links, industry sources said on Friday, after the
United States imposed sanctions on its billionaire co-founder.
The United States added Gennady Timchenko to its sanctions
list on Thursday, forcing him to sell his near 50 percent Gunvor
stake to Chief Executive Officer Torbjorn Tornqvist earlier this
week in order to keep it running.
Following the sanctions and stake sale, one major oil
company had an internal debate as to whether it could still
trade with Swiss-based Gunvor, which trades crude, refined oil
products and other commodities including natural gas and coal.
"We reviewed everything earlier today. We needed to be
convinced of the flow of money and check into the new
shareholding to see the implications," said a senior executive
at the company.
After reviewing the matter, the company decided it could
still trade with Gunvor with no restrictions, because Gunvor is
technically not under Timchenko, the executive and a separate
trading source said.
Gunvor was active in the oil market on Friday, buying a
cargo of gasoline from France's Total in Asia.
A trading source with a U.S. oil company said the firm would
be wary of trading with Gunvor.
"U.S. companies are normally cautious, so it will be
difficult for them," the source said.
Timchenko, who co-founded Gunvor in 1997, was among several
Russian businessmen placed under U.S. sanctions on Thursday,
over Russia's intervention in Ukraine. The U.S. Treasury said
Russian President Vladimir Putin has investments in Gunvor.
Gunvor said on Thursday it was outraged by the Treasury's
linkage of Putin and Gunvor and that Timchenko's stake sale was
in order to "ensure with certainty the continued and
uninterrupted operations" of Gunvor.
(Additional reporting by Seng Li Peng in Singapore; Editing by
Veronics Brown and William Hardy)