Barclays refuses to hand over legal advice for Qatar payments

Legal skirmish comes before £1.6 billion London court battle next month

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 22: Chief Negotiator of Dubai International Capital Amanda Staveley looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, first leg match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on April 22, 2008 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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British financier Amanda Staveley has accused Barclays Bank of unfairly withholding more than 1,000 documents just days before a £1.6 billion (Dh7.2bn) legal battle over the lender’s dealings with Qatar.

Ms Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners claims the British-based bank repeatedly lied as it wooed Gulf investors during the 2008 financial crisis while concealing bumper commission payments for Qatar.

The bank eventually secured £4bn from Qatar and £3.5bn from Abu Dhabi during a capital-raising operation to avoid a UK government bailout.

The trial at London’s High Court is due to start early next month after repeated delays caused by an eight-year criminal probe and failed prosecutions of four of the bank’s executives. The last three, including Middle East investment chief Roger Jenkins, were acquitted in February clearing the way for the case to go ahead.

The bank is defending the claim and says that Qatar was paid an extra £322 million under the terms of two separate agreements aimed at boosting the bank’s presence in the Middle East. PCP claims the agreements were “shams” and says it lost out on hundreds of millions of pounds.

Lawyers for PCP want to secure documents from the bank detailing the legal advice given to executives connected with the two agreements. Barclays refuses to hand them over saying it was confidential legal advice and a judge was asked on Friday to rule on the dispute.

“It is common ground that only a selection of the communications between Barclays and its lawyers are before the court,” according to court documents filed by PCP. “That is wrong in law and principle.”

It said that Barclays wanted to hold back more than 1,000 documents. “It is difficult to imagine a starker example of unfairness and inconsistency,” it said.

The trial is due to start in early June. Richard Lissack, the lawyer for Barclays, told the court: “This is an ask for far too much, far too late.”

The judge is due to rule on the dispute on Monday.