Once the darling of hedge funds, commodities are now looking like a poisoned chalice. Last year, hedge funds such as BlueGold, which specialized in crude oil; Centaurus, in natural gas; and Fortress Commodities, across all raw materials, shut down. Several commodities fund of funds also closed last year after clients fled.
Commodities trading, it seems – and in particular oil – is not for the faint of heart. The field is littered with failed ventures and prison sentences.
International sanctions on exporting countries such as Iran can make trading crude an even more dangerous game. On May 9, the US Treasury said it was penalizing Sambouk Shipping for contravening these sanctions. Sambouk is allegedly associated with Dimitris Cambis, who, along with a network of front companies, was executing ship-to-ship transfers of Iranian oil to obscure its origin.