Qatar has accused the bank of orchestrating an attack that cost the country $40 billion to support its currency.
Qatari authorities have accused financier David Rowland and his son of “brazenly” hiding crucial evidence in the latest Banque Havilland dispute over its alleged role in an economic attack on the Gulf state, according to a Bloomberg report.
Lawyers representing Qatar said that Rowland, who previously controlled the bank, and his son and firm director Edmund “intended to conceal emails” following accusations of the private bank’s involvement in a financial attack against Qatar in 2017.
According to a call disclosed at a UK hearing on Monday, the two talked about shifting future conversations away from the bank’s email system, in what can be considered an attempt to hide evidence.
“We don’t put anything down on the bank emails,” David said in one exchange, according to Qatar’s lawyers.
“Nothing. No, I agree. We’ll cut that out,” Edmund replied.
Qatar’s lawyer David Mumford told the judge during a hearing aimed to request access to further bank documents that in another phone call, Edmund told David to “throw all your phones away.”
Mumford did not confirm or deny the exchange.
Manipulation of Qatar’s currency
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.
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 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 US, 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 free fall 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.”