As one of Britain’s wealthiest businesswomen, and a former girlfriend of Prince Andrew, Amanda Staveley has long attracted media attention.
Now, Staveley is suing the iconic British bank Barclays for a staggering sum which could be as high as $1.9 billion, according to U.K. paper The Times (the exact figure looks set to be the subject of much legal argument).
The court case opened in Britain’s high court this week, just days after news broke that Staveley was brokering a takeover of one of the country’s iconic Premier League soccer clubs, Newcastle United. She has reportedly organized for it to be bought by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is ultimately controlled by the country’s controversial leader, Mohammed bin Salman.
The new court case hinges on Staveley’s disputed role in organizing a private bailout for Barclays bank during the 2008 financial crisis, which involved another mega-rich Gulf client.
The Financial Times reports that Staveley says that she was tricked into accepting “manifestly worse terms” than should have been the case after her client, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, invested $4.14 billion into the bank as part of an emergency fundraising 12 years ago.
Staveley also claimed in court documents filed this week that a powerful male banker, Roger Jenkins, 64, known as “Big Dog” to colleagues in the world of finance, called her “the tart” while another senior banker referred to her as a “foxy blonde.”
Staveley alleges many other “deeply unpleasant” and personal comments were made about her by Barclays top brass.
Jenkins moved in rarefied circles having once dated model Elle Macpherson and was Britain’s best-paid banker at the time, earning an eye-watering $82.9 million over two years, The Times says.
Staveley, 47, who is said to have amassed a personal fortune of over $130 million since she bought her first investment, a restaurant, in her early twenties, has accused Barclays of misleading her as she helped secure the cash injection.
Staveley says she arranged the Abu Dhabi investment in October 2008 but claims she would not have done so had she known that Qatar’s sovereign gulf fund was given a very different deal; Staveley claims that Barclays agreed to Qatari demands that they be paid $441 million in “sham” fees and be given an unsecured $2.6 billion loan from the bank.
Staveley’s Abu Dhabi-based firm, PCP Capital, claimed in court filings: “Barclays deliberately misled not only PCP but also its own shareholders and the market,” and said that Jenkins, Barclays’ then chairman of investment banking had assured Staveley that the Qatari investors were “getting the same deal” as her Abu Dhabi investors.
PCP was paid a fee of $38.3 million for its work on the fundraising, but claims it is due far more on the basis of what Qatar received.
Jeffery Onions QC, who is leading Barclays’ legal team, said the underlying proposition that Barclays’ bosses chose to jeopardize their livelihoods and perpetuate a serious fraud was “highly improbable”.
Staveley also claims she is owed the massive payout because her firm, PCP, was more than a mere facilitator on the deal, acting as a private equity company in its own right.
But Barclays told the court: “To describe this as PCP’s deal is a classic example of form over substance.”
Supporting legal documents filed by Barclays in the case add: “On PCP’s own case, it adhered to none of the ordinary conventions of [a private equity firm]: it had no pre-established fund, no commitments of equity capital at all, and no arrangements for its own remuneration. It had not even started looking for debt financing.”
Staveley, the daughter of a wealthy British landowner, was in a relationship with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and is said to have turned down a marriage proposal in 2003 fearing it would disrupt her business career.
In 2011 she married husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi at a glamorous ceremony. Wedding guests included the artist Tracey Emin; and her dress was designed by Sarah Burton, who made Kate Middleton’s royal wedding dress.