The Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, has taken quite an interest in David Rowland, the media-shy millionaire that lived in Guernsey until recently when he felt a pressing urge to donate £2,7m to the Conservative Party. Earlier this year, the party nominated Rowland its new treasurer, due to take office now in autumn. Daily Mail has been untiring in digging up interesting stories about Rowland in order to show the Conservatives predilection for shady money men. As the new owner of Kaupthing Luxembourg, now Banque Havilland, Rowland is of a particular interest to those interested in the aftermath of the collapse of the Icelandic banks.
August 7 Daily Mail came up with a very Daily-Mailish photo of the married Rowland sitting with a middle-aged blond in his lap. Not his wife but, according to the paper, an Italian property agent working in Antigua who, in spite of the intimacy of the scene, wasn’t at all taken in by Rowland. She said he presented himself as a single man but she likes men with ‘more soul’ – and apparently Rowland doesn’t meet that standard. All this according to Daily Mail.
The photo was allegedly taken in Antigua in autumn 2008, a few weeks after Kaupthing collapsed. Rowland was then on this Carribean island pursuing his interest in a property development, i.a. in Hodges Bay, a $60m waterside development where Kaupthing had been the main financial backer.
The collapse of Kaupthing was yet another setback for the Antiguan government – after all, Allan Stanford who is now charged in the US with a $8bn fraud ran his bank and the fraudulent schemes in Antigua. But the Hodges Bay Club still exists and is, according to the club’s website ‘now the reality of a very exclusive dream.’
Who Kaupthing was backing isn’t at all clear since the club’s website doesn’t contain any information on who now owns the club. Kaupthing funded various luxury developments, most noticeably with the Candy brothers. It would indeed be of interest to know who the Kaupthing clients were in the case – the development seems to have been run from London.
But back to David Rowland: it’s mighty interesting that Rowland was scrutinising the Kaupthing backed development because it shows some Rowland ties to Kaupthing. According to the lady on his lap in the end Rowland didn’t invest in the club.
The official Rowland story is that Blackfish Capital, the Rowland investment fund, first became involved with Kaupthing in early spring 2009 as the negotiations with the Libyan Investment Authority on buying Kaupthing Luxembourg collapsed. The Libyan deal collapsed because the bank’s creditors didn’t accept it. Blackfish Capital became involved because the Rowlands, David and his son Jonathan now CEO of Banque Havilland, had been in touch with Kaupthing Luxembourg manager Magnus Gudmundsson earlier that year when the Rowlands were buying some bonds from the collapsed bank.
The rumour in Luxembourg is that Kaupthing’s major shareholder and/or managers were in touch with the Rowlands and still have an interest in the bank. The fact that the Rowlands kept the Icelandic management seemed to support these rumours. It wasn’t until Magnus Gudmundsson was put into custody in Iceland in May that the Rowlands sacked him. The Rowlands firmly deny any contact with Icelanders, earlier connected to Kaupthing.
The fact that Rowland went to Antigua to look into the Kaupthing-related investment is interesting because it shows an earlier Kaupthing connection.
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