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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The shady relations between the UAE and Banque Havilland

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Kuldeep Singh
Kuldeep is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. He writes about topics such as Apps, how to, tips and tricks, social network and covers the latest story from the ground. He stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. Always ready to review new products. Email: kuldeep (at) revyuh (dot) com

A treasure trove of emails discovered by Bloomberg News, as well as previous interviews with former insiders, point to the bank’s plethora of services to Mohammed bin Zayed, (MBZ), Prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates. Some of these services were not about finances

Financier David Rowland, who used his relationship with Britain’s Prince Andrew to enter the elite world, has more to do with blue-bloods around the world. One of them lives in the Middle East, and Rowland Banque Havilland’s senior executives have dubbed him “The Boss.” 

Scouting for deals in Zimbabwe, setting up a company to commercialize Manchester City players and placing the former bank chairman on the board of the Human Rights Watch when he criticized the UAE were some of them.

None of the above… was as insolence as the bank’s plan in 2017 for an unprecedented “attack” on the financial markets of Qatar, a country which had been blocked by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain on suspicion of harboring terrorists. “Check the performance curves, check the future,” was the motto of the presentation of a former Analyst of Banque Havilland who also called for the total impoverishment of the Qatari government.

One of Rowland’s sons, a bank executive, had also sent the tactical plan to former MI6 spy and then-MBZ collaborator Will Trix. Trix was also Rowland’s mediator. The proposal was found in the hands of the UAE ambassador to the US, who “saved” it on his computer as ” Rowland Banque Havilland“.

Hackers also discovered it there. The data was given to Intercept, which was published in November 2018. In 2019, Qatar sued the bank in London, accusing it of orchestrating a plan that cost the state about $ 40 billion. Although the case was covered by the media, the extent of Rowland’s relationship with the MBZ was not yet known.

The Businessweek Bloomberg revealed in November that the bank is under investigation by the Luxembourg authorities to Deal with another … royalty. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.

The bank, for its part, argues that the plan was simply a risk management strategy program for the protection of the UAE, which was tabled at a meeting between Rowland and CEO of foreign wealth management fund of Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Investment Co. The bank claims that the plan was implemented months after the alleged attack on the Qatari economy while emphasizing that it did not act illegally.

Creating a plan of financial sabotage is not included in the standard tasks of a classic bank. Banque Havilland, however, is not a classic bank. The company has historically taken on tasks that other institutions would be afraid to touch, according to its e-mail. Its clientele includes kleptocrats and criminals in various corrupt hotspots around the world, such as Nigeria and Azerbaijan. The bank also works with countries that have received international sanctions, such as Zimbabwe and North Korea. 

MBZ is not an outcast, though. He is a graduate of the British Royal Military School in Sandhurst, commands one of the best-equipped armies in the Middle East, and has been involved in wars in Yemen, Libya and Somalia. He may not be as well known as the “protégé” of Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, but the 59-year-old is one of the region’s main geostrategic “players”, according to US diplomatic documents. The MBS was also the mediator in Trump’s diplomatic mission meeting with Putin’s counterpart in Seychelles in 2016, according to a report by Robert Mueller which was also used in an attempt to oust the outgoing US president. The MBZ has played a huge role in US sanctions against Qatar and has reached historic agreements with Israel.

According to court figures, Rowland, 75, first met MBZ in the 1990s. Rowland, the son of a scrap metal dealer, dropped out of school at 16 and built his empire through real-estate, retail and chemical companies.

Following the acquisition of the Luxembourg branch of the faltering Icelandic bank Kaupthing in 2009, which was renamed Banque Havilland, MBZ also became one of the best customers. In 2012, he had $ 38 billion in his bank account.

Trix also enjoyed special treatment from the bank. When he wanted to buy a £1.1m million home in the south-west of England in 2010, the bank gave him a £1.2m home loan.

When MBZ wanted to enter the South African commodities market in 2011, Trix worked with the Rowlands to find potential investors. They chose neighboring Zimbabwe, but there was a small problem. This problem was nothing more than the country’s international sanctions by the United States and the European Union, which barred any agreement with Robert Mugabe‘s inner circle. Trix was the one who advised the bank to establish a trust in Abu Dhabi from which all agreements with Zimbabwe would be channelled, under the nose of the American authorities.

Jonathan Rowland was skeptical at first, fearing his name would be associated with the country. In one of the files that were revealed, he seems to have stated “we must be careful that nothing is reported by the media about our visit to the country. “Can we do something about it?”, before his visit to the capital Harare. In Harare, Rowland and Mining Minister Obert Bofu discussed a $ 200 million investment, despite EU bans. The decisions taken at that meeting are not known, but the UAE is -now- a trade partner of Zimbabwe, while it also opened an embassy in 2019, despite the sanctions.

David Rowland and former chairman of the bank’s board, Graham Robson, are also closely associated with the British Conservative Party. Rowland was also one of the biggest supporters of former British Prime Minister David Cameron in the 2010 election, donating £6m to the party. Robson, who resigned in 2018, is also one of the biggest fundraisers of the Tories (Conservatives), while Queen Elizabeth rewarded him with the title of member of the Order of the British Empire in 2015. A month after His election victory, Cameron had visited the UAE where he met with the MBZ and other government officials.

Rowland has donated £465,000 since 2010 to the Conservative Council of the Middle East. Former group leader Leo Doherty received a £10,000 donation from Rowland when he ran for the British Parliament in 2017. Since his election, Doherty has been a strong supporter of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, while visiting area three times in the first 9 months of his new capacity.

Rowland also donated $ 2 million to Human Rights Watch following the organization’s criticism of the UAE in 2011 for illegally arresting activists such as Ahmed Mansour during the Arab Spring. The donation was made through the new Rowland 66 Humanitarian Foundation, headed by Robson.

Robson himself became a member of the Observatory’s board a few months later, in April 2012. He stated in an email to Jonathan Rowland (which he asked to share with his father) that “we now have all details of the Observatory’s projects in the Middle East and North Africa.” Robson said he had also given details of several meetings of the organization with British government officials.

This information was a great asset for MBZ. With spy codes, David Rowland had sent an email to Jonathan stating “The position of GJR (Graham Robeson) in HRW (Human Rights Watch) and the Torries are very important, and” The Boss “wants us to succeed.” Just the following month, the Rowland Foundation donated $ 930,000 to the Observatory to support the Middle East projects. The Rowland Foundation has no other reason to exist than donations to the Observatory.

Rowland also helped the Arabs of Abu Dhabi with Manchester City in 2012. The UEFA had banned clubs from spending more than their revenue, which posed a direct threat to City’s expansion plans. The club, which was acquired by MBZ’s half-brother in 2008, had already spent £390m on new transfers, having lost £300m in the two years before the cap was implemented.

Working with Trix, Rowland set up a company that paid City, £24.5m for the rights to use the players’ image, while also bearing the marketing costs of the players, amounting to 12 million. Secretly, apparently, Abu Dhabi repaid the Rowlands.

The plan, of course, did not succeed, as the UEFA sent a letter to City in 2015 for a refund of 10 million / year for these rights. However, the Agency had not formally accused City of violating the cap.

The current trial, in which Robson also attended, is key to Qatar’s allegations. However, the UAE government is not to blame. Last April, however, Banque Havilland executives said the proposal had been sent to Trix, who was then a hired consultant, but Trix had not promoted it to anyone, and the strategy was not followed. There will be another trial in 2021.

At the same time, the Rowlands still have many to call friends in Abu Dhabi. In April, they merged Blackfish Capital into an investment company in the UAE capital, led by Barkley Rowland, another son of David. The family’s private jet, according to flight records, flew to Abu Dhabi at least 10 times in 2019.

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