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Former Barclays Boss Accused of Fabricating Conflict of Interest in Zambian Bank Takeover

The High Court in London heard explosive allegations against former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, claiming that he fabricated a conflict of interest to obstruct Zambian businessman Dr. Rajan Mahtani from benefiting from the sale of Finance Bank Zambia (FBZ).

Dr. Mahtani, who founded FBZ in 1986 and agreed to a takeover by Diamond’s Atlas Mara company, accuses the latter of breaching the terms of the acquisition agreement, leading to a lawsuit seeking up to $100 million (£80m) in damages.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Dr. Mahtani refuted claims of a conflict of interest linked to the appointment of Faber Capital as a fundraising agent for the sale of FBZ and its subsidiaries. He alleged that the conflict was a pretext for delaying Faber’s appointment, hindering the raising of funds to achieve an ‘earn out’ target by the deadline of December 31, 2016.

The alleged conflict arose as Faber Capital was also mandated to work for Crane Bank, a Ugandan bank that Atlas Mara was considering for purchase. Dr. Mahtani dismissed the conflict as a ‘fiasco,’ stating that none of the involved parties, including Faber Capital and Crane, saw any problem.

During cross-examination, Atlas Mara’s representative, Anna Boase KC, cited correspondence indicating the company’s cooperation until the identification of the conflict on August 5, 2016. Boase argued that Atlas Mara resumed working with Faber once the conflict was resolved on September 27, as Faber dropped its Ugandan client.

Dr. Mahtani countered that none of the parties involved agreed on the existence of a conflict during that period. He claimed that the conflict issue soured relations between Atlas Mara and Faber, pointing to an internal email from Faber on September 24, expressing frustration with Atlas Mara’s reluctance to work with them.

Despite the email, Faber continued to work with FBZ, emailing Dr. Mahtani on October 9, outlining conditions for becoming the official fundraising agent. Dr. Mahtani blamed Atlas Mara for preventing the funds from being raised, emphasizing that it was the company’s lack of cooperation.

The ongoing trial raises serious allegations against Bob Diamond, whose past controversies include a forced exit from Barclays in a 2012 interbank rate-fixing scandal. Barclays was fined a record £290 million for manipulating rates determining mortgage payments.

The trial continues, promising further revelations and insights into the intricate web surrounding the FBZ takeover.

Source: Lusaka Times