Judgment was handed down on 3 December 2021 in a summary judgment application and jurisdiction challenge in a claim by the Libyan Investment Authority’s (“the LIA”) against Credit Suisse and others.
The claim is the latest in a series of claims brought by the LIA against US and European financial institutions in relation to transactions carried out before the Libyan civil war. The LIA previously brought claims against Société Générale, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, alleging that the transactions had been procured by bribery or undue influence and seeking to have them set aside.
In the latest set of proceedings against Credit Suisse, the LIA also claimed against two fund managers, GLG Partners Asset Management (“GMAP”) and Frontier Investment Management Partners (“FIMP”), a Dubai-based businessman, Walid Giahmi (“Mr Giahmi”), and a Cayman company, Lands Company Limited (“Lands”).
The LIA alleged that following payment of the sum of US$200m invested in notes issued by Credit Suisse, a US$6m fee was paid to GMAP and subsequently to Lands in return for services provided by Mr Giahmi, which included bribery and intimidation of LIA officials to procure the transaction. It further alleged that after a restructuring of the notes involving different funds managed by FIMP, a further US$6m fee was paid to FIMP and subsequently to a company linked to Mr Giahmi, again in return for fraudulent and corrupt services. All the defendants strongly denied the allegations.
Under English law, the standard time limit for bringing an action for breach of contract is six years from the date of the alleged breach. As the claims were brought considerably more than six years after the relevant events (which took place in 2008 and 2009), the two UK-based defendants brought summary judgment applications on limitation grounds. The remaining overseas-based defendants also brought jurisdiction challenges on limitation grounds.
Following a six-day hearing in June and July 2021, His Honour Judge Pelling QC, sitting as a High Court judge, granted the defendants’ applications on limitation grounds. He found that the LIA’s claims were time-barred and that the LIA had no realistic prospect of successfully avoiding a limitation defence at trial by relying on s32 of the Limitation Act 1980. Under that provision, where there has been fraud or concealment by the defendant, time stops running against the claimant until the claimant discovers the fraud or concealment or, crucially, in this case, could have discovered it with reasonable diligence. The judge found that, based on various pieces of information the LIA already possessed and opportunities it had had to make enquiries in relation to the transaction, it was “entirely unreal” to conclude that the LIA would succeed at trial in establishing that it could not have discovered the relevant facts with reasonable diligence.
The Credit Suisse claim is the second set of proceedings brought by the LIA in which Stewarts has been successful at the interim stage (see here for a summary of the jurisdiction challenge in the JP Morgan proceedings).
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