Qatari bank accused of funding jihadists

It is alleged that Doha Bank and the brothers “knew (or ought to have known) that the funds that passed from them or through their accounts were intended for the al-Nusra Front.”
Wednesday 07/08/2019
A security guard and policemen are seen outside the first branch in India of Doha Bank, in Mumbai on April 29, 2015. (AFP)
A security guard and policemen are seen outside the first branch in India of Doha Bank, in Mumbai on April 29, 2015. (AFP)

LONDON - London law firm Richard Slade and Company is ‘very confident’ about the claim it issued at the High Court against a Qatari bank which allegedly channelled large sums of money to a terrorist group in Syria, a spokesperson for the legal case told Middle East Online.

Eight Syrians lodged a claim last week against Doha Bank in the High Court for substantial loss and damage, including severe physical and psychiatric injuries, destruction of property, loss of profits and forcible displacement from their homes in Syria at the hands of jihadist terrorist group al-Nusra Front, according to the claim, a copy of which was received by Middle East Online.

Two wealthy Qatari-Syrian brothers Moutaz and Ramez al-Khayyat, who are respectively chairman and chief executive of the Doha-based UrbaCon Trading & Contracting Company (UCC), are alleged in the claim to have financed and/or assisted in financing al-Nusra Front through their accounts at Doha Bank during the Syrian civil war.

Payments of large sums were made through Doha Bank into accounts in Turkey and/or Lebanon where the money was withdrawn and then carried out over the border with Syria where it was used to fund al-Nusra Front, formerly al Qaeda's official Syrian affiliate, which caused loss and damage to the claimants who now live in Europe, said the claim.

Richard Whiting, Doha Bank’s chief London representative, told The Times that “the details contained in the recently received claim were limited.

“Doha Bank Limited is taking legal advice. However, it considers the allegations asserted against it are groundless and without merit,” said Whiting.

However, the spokesperson for Richard Slade and Company, who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the case, told Middle East Online that the details in the claim were far from limited.

“A huge damage has been done to the Syrian claimants who lost their businesses, their livelihoods and who have had unimaginable things that happened to them because this money enabled it to happen,” said the spokesperson.

“We are very confident about the claim because of the elements we have and the clear processing besides the English court in being able to decide a matter such as this,” he added.

Qatar Investment Authority, the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, is Doha Bank’s largest shareholder.

The bank’s chairman and several directors are members of the emirate’s ruling al-Thani family, according to The Times.

The legal came two days after the British newspaper revealed that British-based and Qatari-owned Al Rayan Bank was providing financial services to several British organisations linked to promoting Islamist causes, including a charity that is a designated terrorist entity in the United States.

The Times’ investigative report exposed Qatar’s hidden agenda of backing Islamists worldwide to spread their ‘extremist’ ideology through financing their charities.

Qatar is the subject of a two-year Saudi-led economic embargo including bans on direct air, land and sea travel between the boycotting nations and Qatar, as well as sanctions after accusing Doha of sponsoring terrorism.

Although Qatar has repeatedly denied backing or funding terror groups, western diplomats have accused it of allowing the funding of some Sunni extremists, including al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.