Amanda Staveley wept after Barclays’ lawyer launched a blistering attack on her in the High Court, accusing her of “significantly exaggerating” her business relationship with Sheikh Mansour and engaging in a “hustle” to put herself in the middle of the bank’s 2008 emergency cash call to enrich herself.
The former girlfriend of Prince Andrew and now a fixer to sheikhs ended her final day of testimony on Friday in the £1.5bn lawsuit which her company PCP has brought against Barclays for its alleged deceit over its 2008 capital raising with Qatar. The bank denies wrongdoing.
Ms Staveley, currently at the heart of the proposed Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United football club, has spent six days being cross examined over PCP’s efforts to put together a consortium to invest in Barclays with Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour as its cornerstone investor. PCP is suing Barclays claiming it thought Abu Dhabi was getting the same deal as Qatar.
The trial has given a rare glimpse into Ms Staveley’s dealings with Sheikh Mansour and highlighted her globe-trotting lifestyle and connections, which range from Saudi princes and Greek shipping magnates to former Conservative politician David Mellor, retail billionaire Philip Green and BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink.
Ms Staveley, who brokered the sale of Manchester City football club to Sheikh Mansour in 2008, told the court that she had a “good relationship” with the Abu Dhabi royal who “sometimes sought my counsel about things” and who she regularly texts. “He uses WhatsApp now frequently, so he texts backwards and forwards.”
She recounted the frantic events of October 2008 as she flew between London and the Middle East, where she says she attended a high powered “majlis” reception at Abu Dhabi’s palace to discuss the Barclays deal with Sheikh Mansour “sitting on beautiful sofas”.
Her version of events is being fiercely disputed by Barclays. Jeffrey Onions QC, barrister representing Barclays, has traded fiery exchanges with Ms Staveley.
On Friday, Mr Onions launched a 29-minute attack on her evidence accusing her of “inserting” herself in the Barclays deal and “significantly exaggerating” her relationship with Sheikh Mansour. He accused her of “embellishing” and “inventing” evidence, saying her description of the majlis was “implausible” and “not capable of belief”.
For her part, Ms Staveley had appeared tough and resilient in the witness box until Friday afternoon as she vehemently rejected Barclays’ claims.
The trial has lifted the lid on the simmering resentments about who was responsible for securing the introduction of Sheikh Mansour to the deal. Barclays claims it paid £66m to Qatar for the introduction — although Ms Staveley says she introduced him. Mr Onions put to her that Abu Dhabi and Qatar royals were speaking anyway “at a level above your pay grade”.
The court was also shown a November 2008 email from Roger Jenkins, head of Barclays in the Middle East at the time, to Bob Diamond, then Barclays president, in which Mr Jenkins complained that “Amanda gets all the limelight” even though she was “there to execute what hamad teed up for us with mansoor”. In it, he says he is “devastated” that his then wife Diana got no credit for introducing Sheikh Hamad through her contacts.
Ms Staveley claims she had been “reassured” by Mr Jenkins, once Britain’s highest paid banker, on two occasions that Abu Dhabi was getting the “same deal” as Qatar but claims he “lied to me”.
On the first occasion at Mr Jenkins’ Mayfair home on October 23, Ms Staveley says the banker showed off pictures of celebrities on his kitchen wall and invited her to a charity fundraiser for Darfur in December 2008, thrown by his then wife and attended by actor George Clooney. He later suggested that she donate “a couple of million for Darfur”.
On the second, at Barclays’ headquarters a week later, she said Mr Jenkins took her aside to discuss a £66m fee to Qatar which he “reassured” her related to an earlier fundraising. She told the High Court “they just hadn’t paid it, Qatar were kicking up a fuss” and “I thought, God, if this is a real genuine fee, the last thing I want to do is pull the whole capital raising to an end and make everybody focus on this fee”.
Mr Onions this week put it to her that she had “completely invented this story” and said she had not been told about a £66m fee to Qatar by Mr Jenkins. “I am absolutely furious you would say that,” she replied.
Mr Onions has repeatedly tested Ms Staveley’s recall of dates and events, pointing out she had disclosed no phone records for her UAE mobile to which she responded none were held by the telecoms provider.
He also questioned why she told the Serious Fraud Office in 2015 that Sheikh Mansour had “quite bad English” when she had told the court his English was “perfect”. She replied she meant when he was speaking over the phone.
Next week the trial will hear Barclays’ version of events.
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