A Swiss private bank has reportedly handed over to authorities nearly 900 pages of paperwork related to a client allegedly linked to the 1MDB scandal and to AWOL Malaysian businessman Jho Low.
Lombard Odier held an account for Yousef Al Otaiba, according to hacked emails that surfaced earlier this month. Swiss newspaper «Le Temps» (in French) reports that the Geneva-based private bank has handed over more than 900 pages of documentation relating to Otaiba, who is the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the U.S.
Besides his role as a key link between the Middle East and the U.S., Otaiba is a very wealthy businessman who owns a chunk of Silicon Valley security firm Palantir. He also allegedly has a financial link to Jho Low, the Malaysia businessman whom U.S. prosecutors believe masterminded the illicit trail of state money into private coffers.
The newspaper has also mined the emails and found a pattern of doubt and mistrust on the part of the bank, which the newspaper reports shut Otaiba’s account in 2016. It also shows that Otaiba was wary of Low, whom he had financial dealings with.
Party Boy Low
For example, Low asked Otaiba to write him a recommendation for Goldman Sachs’ wealth operation in Switzerland, also based in Geneva. Otaib’s response? «Invent an excuse» not to do it, Otaiba told an associate when informed of Low’s request.
These letters are common in the private banking industry – the formalized version of word-of-mouth references. In fact, Low had asked – and received – a similar recommendation letter from Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs banker in Asia whom has since been banned from Singapore’s finance industry for ten years.
Another sign that Otaiba was growing wary: he wrote in another email that Low «needs to calm down and quit partying,» referring to the financier’s propensity for the New York and Los Angeles red carpet scene.
Irked Wealthy Clients
Low had gotten cozy enough with Leonardo Di Caprio during the filming of «The Wolf of Wall Street» to donate art to the actor and environmentalist’s charity, for auction. Low also dated Australian model Miranda Kerr, whom he gifted millions in luxury jewelry.
The emails also offer a peek into how wealthy clients feel about lofty private banking fees: Otaiba termed the rates commanded by Lombard Odier for managing trusts «exorbitant», with a member of his own financial team arguing they should take their money to UBS – which had been wooing Otaiba for months.
Separately, the wealthy Emirati diplomat reportedly had business ties to Credit Suisse as well. When the Swiss bank wouldn’t release $1 million of his personal funds – for reasons which don’t emerge in the emails – Otaiba became so angry he threatened to complain to his government. A unique brand of personal diplomacy, finews.com finds.