Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie have denied allegation against them in a statement received by Arabstoday on Monday. They said that: “We have learnt through press articles published this weekend that Al Rushaid Petroleum Corporation has filed a complaint against Pictet & Cie on 26 August 2011 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. “Pictet & Cie considers the allegations stated in the complaint to be without factual or legal merit and vigorously denies any wrongdoing on its part. “Pictet & Cie will strongly oppose this action by all legal means available.” The bank was at the centre of a bribery and money laundering case that is alleged to have cost a Saudi conglomerate hundreds of millions of dollars.
Saudi Arabia's Al Rushaid Petroleum Investment Corporation is suing the bank, Pictet & Cie, for allegedly aiding and abetting the bribery efforts of three of Al Rushaid's employees, which it says resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of additional costs.
Documents filed in the Supreme Court of New York State against Pictet say that kickbacks accepted by three Al Rushaid employees worth more than US$4 million (Dh14.69m) brought about further losses to Al Rushaid of $350m after parts failed to arrive and delayed the completion of contracts.
"The corrupted employees were only able to perpetuate their fraudulent bribery kickback scheme with the substantial assistance of Pictet, which helped them hide and launder the millions of dollars they were receiving as bribes," the complaint said.
Al Rushaid said in the documents it later discovered that the employees had established a shell company, TSJ Engineering Consulting, in the British Virgin Islands to receive wire transfers of payments.
Al Rushaid then filed an action in Switzerland to freeze TSJ's accounts with Pictet, and the private accounts held by each of the three employees.
The complaint notes that Thomas Caplis, Shekhar Shetty and James Wight, the former executives who listed Dubai addresses at the time of the incorporation of TSJ Engineering, have since been indicted for money laundering in Geneva, Switzerland.
In an email between Mr Shetty, the chief financial officer of Al Rushaid, and Pierre-Alain Chambaz, a vice-president at Pictet, discussing the name of the new company, Mr Shetty requested "please add the "co." to make it appear to be okay," the complaint added.
Pictet & Cie, which operates an office in Dubai, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Al Rushaid Parker Drilling (ARPD), a subsidiary of Al Rushaid, incurred losses on a contract signed in 2005 with Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's national oil company, to provide six land-based oil rigs.
Al Rushaid said that orders of parts, without which the rigs could not operate, arrived either late or not at all. Many were also improperly inspected, the company said.
The company was left "unable to perform their contractual obligations and incurred damages that devastated their business", the complaint added."ARPD paid the inflated invoices (in some instances, for goods that never even arrived), and the corrupt vendors would then kickback the bribe money to the corrupted employees," it said in the court filing.
Parker Drilling Company, Al Rushaid's partner, sold its interest in the joint venture for $2m in 2008, saying that "completion of construction and commissioning of the rigs would require significant additional capital due primarily to cost overruns, delays and remedial work".
Parker recognised a net loss of $1.5m on the sale, the company said at the time. The complaint says the three employees tried to hide and destroy the business records of Al Rushaid Parker Drilling as its business was collapsing.
During the investigation into the three employees, Al Rushaid says it discovered the business records in an abandoned container in the desert and saved them from destruction.
From / The National