Tonight, BBC’s Panorama shed further light on the investment in Barclays, made by Middle Eastern investors in autumn 2008 – an investment that has some striking similarities with the investment from the same part of the world in Kaupthing in September 2008. At that time, Kaupthing managers proudly announced that a Qatari investor, Sheihk Mohammed bin Khalifa al Thani, had so much faith in the bank that he had bought 5.1% of the bank’s shares.
Only later did it transpire that the faith in Kaupthing wasn’t quite as strong as the statements indicated. Kaupthing lent money to companies connected to the Sheikh and allegedly channeled $50m, an in-advance profit, to a company controlled by the Sheikh. As reported earlier on Icelog the Office of the Special Prosecutor in Iceland has charged ex Kaupthing managers – Sigurdur Einarsson, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and Magnus Gudmundsson – and the bank’s second largest shareholder at the time Olafur Olafsson – for alleged misdoings related to this investment. The Sheikh has not been charged in this loan saga.
Interestingly, the Panorama programme indicated that allegedly and as far as it could be gauged from Barclays public documents the Abu Dhabi sovereign investment fund made the investment whereas profit went into an offshore company controlled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
An FT article on Qatari debt illustrates Qatar’s toughness in squeezing as much as possible out of every deal and the global power they derive from their financial strength. According to the FT “Qatar is notorious for trying to get something for nothing,” says one observer of the region’s financial institutions. “You have to almost pay them to do the deal.” Indeed an interesting statement in view of the Kaupthing Qatari deal. The Panorama programme indicates this toughness might apply to some of their neighours as well.
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