Prince Andrew banker friend named in 'plot to financially ruin Qatar'

Prince Andrew’s banker friend is named in ‘plot to financially ruin oil-rich Qatar’

  • Tory donor David Rowland will not voluntarily allow access to email accounts
  • Qatar suing ex-Conservative treasurer’s Luxembourg bank, Banque Havilland 
  • Qatar has accused Mr Rowland, 76, of launching a cover-up over his alleged role 

A close banker friend of Prince Andrew has been named as being at the heart of an alleged global plot to ruin the oil-rich state of Qatar.

Tory donor David Rowland will not voluntarily allow access to email accounts that it is claimed could shed light on his bank’s alleged role in a conspiracy by some of the UK’s closest international allies to undermine the Gulf state by manipulating financial markets, a judge has said.

Qatar is suing the former Conservative treasurer’s Luxembourg bank, Banque Havilland, which was formally opened by the Duke of York. The bank strongly denies involvement in any plot.

Financier David Rowland (R) arrives at the High Court with his son, also a financier, Jonathan Rowland

Qatar has accused Mr Rowland, 76, of launching a cover-up over his alleged role, said to have been carried out alongside bodies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

At the time, Qatar had been cut off by its powerful neighbours over its alleged support for Islamist terror groups.

Lawyers for Qatar claimed it appeared Mr Rowland had attempted to hide evidence and block investigations.

He is not a defendant in the proceedings, so has not had the opportunity to respond in court. The judge did not make a ruling on these accusations.

The financier, pictured, has given more than £6million to the Conservative Party and worked closely with Andrew. The prince unveiled a statue of Mr Rowland at his estate in the tax haven of Guernsey.

A High Court judge has now raised concerns about the conduct of Mr Rowland’s bank after Qatar claimed it had not provided documents and information relevant to the case. 

In a ruling, Judge David Edwards QC called for more information about why Mr Rowland’s email account at Banque Havilland was deactivated as the scandal was about to emerge in 2017. 

He also raised concerns about how a recorded phone conversation between Mr Rowland and his son Edmund, a director at the bank, was initially withheld from the court, saying: ‘I accept, of course, that mistakes happen, but it was plainly required to be disclosed.’

Qatar is claiming damages of several billion dollars from the bank, which the businessman controls through a trust, and one of its former employees. 

It wants access to Mr Rowland’s personal email accounts, where his official bank correspondence was sent but which fall outside the bank’s legal remit to search.

Circled left, David Rowland, right, Prince Andrew, Duke of York at the Banque Havilland Annual Report 2019 

In his ruling, the judge said the accounts were a ‘potentially important’ source of information. 

But, accepting that the bank did not have control of the accounts, he did not make any order that they should be accessed at this stage.

Mr Rowland, the son of a scrap metal dealer from south London who left school at 16 and went on to make his fortune in property, has said his personal accounts do not contain any relevant information.

A spokesman for Banque Havilland said: ‘Banque Havilland firmly denies any allegations of improper conduct.

‘It was not part of any conspiracy, rejects the claims in their entirety and notes that the claimant has still provided no meaningful evidence…

‘The bank categorically denies any allegation regarding the hiding of evidence.’

Mr Rowland did not respond to a request for comment.

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