Amanda Staveley’s connections among Gulf royals “were at a higher level than any other western financier I came across in the region”, a close adviser to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour told the High Court on Monday.
Ali Jassim, who has known the billionaire owner of Manchester City Football Club for 20 years, was testifying in the £1.5bn lawsuit brought by Ms Staveley’s PCP against Barclays for alleged deceit in its 2008 fundraising with Qatar. Ms Staveley led a parallel fundraising for Abu Dhabi. Barclays denies wrongdoing.
The testimony of Mr Jassim, who is being called as a witness for PCP, appears to clash with the bank’s version of events. On Friday Jeffrey Onions QC, acting for Barclays, put to Ms Staveley that she had been “significantly exaggerating” her relationship with Sheikh Mansour.
Mr Jassim, giving evidence via video link from Puerto Rico, said he had first met Ms Staveley during her negotiations in 2007 to sell Manchester City on behalf of Thailand’s then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
“I recall being impressed with her ability to get the Manchester City FC deal over the line as smoothly as she did,” he said in a witness statement, noting that she was at the time already forging a reputation in the Gulf as a “notable dealmaker”.
He added that Ms Staveley had first discussed her idea of Abu Dhabi buying a strategic stake in an English bank in September 2008, and that Mr Jassim had said he would assist her in putting a pitch to Sheikh Mansour.
He said Sheikh Mansour “always spoke very highly of Ms Staveley and referred to her as a smart businesswoman”, and that she had the royal’s personal telephone number.
“I am aware that she regularly called him during the Barclays deal without my attendance on those calls,” Mr Jassim, now running a consultancy, said in his witness statement.
Ms Staveley testified last week that she had attended a high-level “majlis” reception at Abu Dhabi’s palace in October 2008 to discuss the Barclays deal with Sheikh Mansour “sitting on beautiful sofas”.
Mr Onions on Friday accused her of “embellishing” and “inventing” evidence, saying her description of the majlis was “implausible” and “not capable of belief”.
Mr Jassim on Monday said Ms Staveley had regularly attended the receptions hosted by Abu Dhabi royals, as he described “the close relationships Ms Staveley developed over the years with members of the ruling family and significant members of the business community in the region”.
The case continues.
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