Banque Havilland denies any plot against Qatar
Luxembourg-based private bank Banque Havilland on Friday denied claims that it attempted to foment a financial war with Qatar.
The investigative media site 'The Intercept' on November 9 published leaked plans allegedly drawn up by the bank to destabilise the economy of the small emirate on the Persian Gulf.
"[Banque Havilland] laid out a scheme to drive down the value of Qatar's bonds and increase the cost of insuring them, with the ultimate goal of creating a currency crisis that would drain the country's cash reserves," according to the the journalistic platform funded by the founder of eBay Pierre Omidyar.
The article is based on documents that belonged to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Washington, Youssef Al-Otaiba.
"David Rowland [the founder of Banque Havilland] has long had close relationships with UAE leadership... The bank is currently in the process of creating a new financial institution in cooperation with the UAE's sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, according to contracts and correspondence obtained by The Intercept outlining the terms of the deal”, the website reported.
Office in Dubai
The destabilisation campaign allegedly orchestrated from Dubai, where Havilland has had an office since June 2016, comes in the context of Qatar's diplomatic and economic isolation in the region. The gas-rich emirate must also organise the 2022 football World Cup.
Qatari news media Al Jazeera said on Monday that the state of Qatar has opened an investigation. "Qatar was warned of the problem in July and re-examined it in the light of the latest media releases," said government communication chief Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al Thani last Sunday.
In its communication, Banque Havilland "firmly denies any allegations of improper conduct". The bank said it "values its reputation" and "confirms that it has never executed nor did it intend to execute any of the transactions on financial instruments as referred to in the article".
The plan is described as "far-fetched" and "appeared to have been put together by someone with little or no experience trading in credit and currency markets ", according to 'The Intercept'.
Peter Lang has also replaced Jean-François Willems as head of Banque Havilland. The change has not been officially announced, but has been effective "since June," Peter Lang said himself, contacted by phone on Thursday.
"Jean-François has been moved up in the group and taken on the leadership of Havilland Group," said the German banker.
The documentation available in the commercial register does not attest to this. Willems had been running the business since its emancipation from Kaupthing Bank, and the acquisition of the assets by the Rowland family, in 2009.
Banque Havilland was born from the ashes of the Icelandic establishment caught in the financial turmoil. The bank, owned and managed by the Rowland family, operates subsidiaries in Monaco, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas, Russia and Switzerland (formerly Pasche Bank).
It employs 125 people in Luxembourg and 114 in its subsidiaries, including 40 in Switzerland. PwC's former managing partner Didier Mouget, 59, joined the board in February at the same time as Edmund Rowland, 32.
(By Pierre Sorlut, translated by Hannah Brenton, email@example.com, +352 4993 728)