Qatar sues Saudi Arabian, UAE banks over currency trades

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Qatar filed global lawsuits against banks based in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Luxembourg over the alleged manipulation of its currency in 2017.

A London lawsuit is against Banque Havilland SA for allegedly authoring a plan to “attack Qatar’s currency and its financial markets,” Qatar’s government said in a statement.

A similar case was filed in New York against First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC and Samba Financial Group.

Abu Dhabi’s FAB has previously denied the accusation. FAB, Samba and Banque Havilland didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Qatar’s central bank is investigating suspected attempts to devalue its currency at the height of a diplomatic standoff with its Gulf neighbours in June 2017.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt broke ties with the country and accused it of backing terrorism – a charge Qatar denies. The Qatari riyal came under pressure in the offshore market during the first months of the embargo.

The world’s biggest liquefied natural gas exporter pegs its currency to the dollar, like most of its neighbours.

When Qatar’s boycott began, local banks provided cash to meet domestic business needs at 3.64 riyals per dollar – within the regulator’s preferred range – while turning away transactions it didn’t deem “legitimate.”

That forced some transactions offshore, and the country’s currency traded at two different rates.

The case against FAB and Samba are based on the alleged use of “fraudulent quotes” by the banks, which were intended to “undermine confidence in Qatar’s economy,” the government’s communication office said in the statement.

The country said it may bring additional action against other firms and individuals in the future.