Direct links established between Mohammed Bin Zayed and the Luxembourg-based private bank in a Bloomberg report.
The emergence of direct links between Mohammed bin Zayed, or MBZ as he’s commonly known, and Banque Havilland show that the Abu Dhabi crown prince was one of the biggest customers of the bank through emails documents and legal filings.
The bank has advised MBZ and the UAE sovereign wealth fund, Mudabala Inc. on several matters including the manipulation of Qatar’s currency, business deals in Zimbabwe despite sanctions and helping place the bank’s chairman at the time on the board of Human Rights Watch after it published reports critical of the Persian Gulf country.
In 2017, the bank created a presentation to help manipulate Qatar’s currency and bond markets after the illegal blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt was imposed.
The presentation that recommended the UAE “control the yield curve” to “decide the future,” reached MBZ and Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., through Will Tricks, a former MI6 officer and now advisor to the crown prince.
Soon after the manipulation plan was sent to Bin Zayed, the Qatari riyal—under pressure since the beginning of the Gulf Crisis in June 2017—went into freefall and hit a record low. The yield on Qatar’s 10-year bonds also soared, as did the cost of insuring the country’s debt against default. The currency didn’t recover until November of that year.
Last year, Qatar took Banque Havilland to court in London, accusing them of masterminding an attack campaign that cost the country $40bn to support its currency and resulted in the liquidation of nearly $3 billion in U.S. Treasury bills and notes that were held in New York, according to the complaint.
The bank has defended itself by saying that it was simply a “risk-management strategy” for UAE holdings of Qatar’s bonds, created in September 2017, months after Qatar’s Central Bank claimed the manipulation happened.
The bank has maintained that former MI6 agent Tricks had not forwarded the plan to anyone, but failed to address how it ended up in the inbox of the UAE ambassador to the U.S. “Banque Havilland firmly denies any allegations of wrongdoing or improper conduct made by the State of Qatar,” a spokesman for the bank said in an emailed statement. “The bank was not part of any conspiracy against Qatar and rejects all of Qatar’s claims.”
This is not the first time the bank has found itself in hot water. It is currently under criminal investigation in its home base, Luxembourg for shady dealings with the family of another head of state, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
In similar cases, Qatar has accused Riyadh-based Samba Financial Group and First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC of manipulation of the Qatari currency in a lawsuit filed in New York.