07 December, 2015

N.Y. judge tosses Saudi developer's $10 bln lawsuit vs Barclays

Barclays won the dismissal of a Saudi real estate company's USD 10 billion lawsuit alleging the bank ceased pursuing lease payments due from the Saudi government on military complexes in order to obtain a banking license.

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Barclays Plc won the dismissal on Monday of a Saudi real estate company's $10 billion lawsuit alleging the bank ceased pursuing lease payments due from the Saudi government on military complexes in order to obtain a banking license.

New York Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos ruled from the bench in dismissing the 2014 lawsuit by the company, Jadawel International, a unit of London-based MBI International Holdings Inc, a Barclays spokesman said.

The lawsuit sought $10 billion in damages for what Jadawel claimed was a fraudulent scheme Barclays hatched to secure the rare Saudi banking license, selling out Jadawel in the process.

Barclays contended Jadawel's claims were time-barred and that the lawsuit did not establish a fiduciary relationship between Jadawel and the bank.

"We are pleased with the court's ruling," Andrew Smith, a Barclays spokesman, said.

A lawyer for Jadawel did not respond to requests for comment.

MBI, founded by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, built two compounds and leased them to the Saudi government in 1999 to house U.S. defense contractors, the lawsuit said. The payments should have totaled over $2 billion through 2017, it said.

When Jadawel sought to refinance in 2001, Barclays helped assemble a group of lenders, the lawsuit said.

In 2002, the government partially defaulted and Barclays assumed responsibility to collect, it said. As a result, Barclays filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages from the Saudi government.

Barclays later caused the lawsuit to be withdrawn, Jadawel's lawsuit said, and sought a bank license from the Saudi Capital Markets Authority, which was considering granting one to a Western financial institution for the first time in decades.

Jadawel accused the bank of dropping the lawsuit and compromising the claims for its own benefit, causing it to be deprived hundreds of millions of dollars in lease payments and sell the compounds at a "substantial loss."

The bank also was reported to have bribed a Saudi prince and government official to help obtain the license, the lawsuit said.

In 2012, Reuters reported that the U.S. government was investigating whether Barclays paid bribes to win a banking license in Saudi Arabia. Barclays has denied doing so.

The case is MBI International Holdings v Barclays Bank Plc, New York State Supreme Court, No. 653307/2014.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler) ((Nate.Raymond@thomsonreuters.com and Twitter @nateraymond; 646-223-6752; Reuters Messaging: nate.raymond.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: BARCLAYS LAWSUIT/