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Monday, June 14, 2021

UK court orders top officials at Qatar’s central bank to disclose private emails

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A UK court has accepted Banque Havilland’s bid to force Qatar’s central bank to hand over private emails concerning blockade response. 

A UK court has granted Banque Havilland’s request for Qatar’s central bank to reveal private emails after Doha accused the institute of helping orchestrate an economic blockade on the Gulf state, according to a Bloomberg report.

A lawyer representing Qatar said the governor of Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud Al-Thani didn’t have “operational responsibility” for the economic response to the 2017 crisis.

This argument was dismissed by the Judge David Waksman.

“Given the amount of money that had to be pumped out by the QCB, I don’t find that particularly plausible,” said Waksman.

Now, QCB’s deputy governor, as well as an official at Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, must turn over private emails.
In the short hearing, the Luxembourg bank’s lawyers failed to provide an explanation as to why they requested the private emails but said the bank was looking into details of the decision-making at the time of Qatar’s response.

In 2019, Qatar took Banque Havilland to court in London, accusing it of orchestrating an attack that cost the country $40 billion to support its currency and resulted in the liquidation of nearly $3 billion in US Treasury bills and notes that were held in New York, according to the complaint.

The bank defended itself by saying 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.

Qatar used a presentation prepared by a Banque Havilland analyst as evidence and claimed the document detailed an attempt to deplete the country’s reserves and damage its ability to host the 2022 World Cup.

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.

Read also: Timeline: How the GCC crisis erupted over three years

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.

The Luxembourg bank maintained that former MI6 agent Will 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 US.

“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.”


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