Qatar sues UAE, Saudi, and Luxemburg banks for sabotaging its economy

Qatar said on Monday it had filed lawsuits against three banks, accusing them of using what it called overseas currency manipulation to sabotage its economy in the wake of a blockade against the country in 2017.

The cases, filed in London and New York, name Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland, the United Arab Emirates’ First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Saudi Arabia’s Samba Bank, a statement from Qatar’s government communications office said.

Qatar said Banque Havilland tried to weaken the country’s riyal currency by submitting what the statement called fraudulent quotes to foreign-exchange platforms in New York, to disrupt indices and markets where significant Qatari assets and investors are located.

The statement did not go into detail about the accusations against FAB and Samba Bank, nor did it state the extent of the alleged damage or compensation being sought.

Qatar’s central bank began a probe into alleged foreign-exchange manipulation in late 2017 after it said unnamed banks were looking to attack the riyal by trading it between themselves offshore at artificially weak levels – to create an illusion Qatar’s economy was crumbling.

The riyal has been pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 3.64 for more than a decade, but in the initial months of the boycott it traded as low as 3.8950 offshore before returning to normal levels.

With more than $300 billion in central bank reserves and sovereign wealth fund assets, bankers say Qatar has sufficient financial firepower to block attacks on its currency.