Last updated: 28 August, 2013

Dubai court rejects Kuwaiti sheikh complaint against UBS

A Dubai-based court dismissed a Kuwaiti sheikh’s complaint that UBS failed to pay him $21,400,000 as promised for helping the Swiss bank arrange an asset sale by telecom operator Zain.

Sheikh Meshal al-Sabah, a member of Kuwait’s ruling family, claimed that bank officials had offered him money at a meeting in Dubai in 2009 to help hamper French media conglomerate Vivendi’s bid to acquire Zain’s African operations, said a copy of the judgement obtained by AFP.

Meshal claims that UBS had promised him a commission of between 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the total cost of Zain Africa, estimated at $10 billion to $12 billion.

The Swiss bank had strongly denied the allegations as the trial opened in June at the independent Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, where the lender’s offices are located.

According to the verdict, Meshal failed to present sufficient evidence on the verbal deal that he claimed had been agreed.

“The claimant has fallen well short of establishing that any oral agreement was entered into on 9 July 2009, let alone one on the terms alleged,” said Justice Sir David Steel, formerly of the British Commercial Court.

In 2010, Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel bought Zain’s African mobile services, which operate in 15 countries. UBS had advised Zain on the deal.

The UAE’s DIFC English-language courts are independent from the United Arab Emirate’s judicial system and settle local and international commercial or civil disputes.