Barclays blacklists billionaire Wafic Saïd: reports

Syrian-born billionaire, ex-arms dealer and prominent Tory backer Wafic Saïd has  been blacklisted by Barclays bank, according to reports.

According to the report, which was published in The Times and other publications, Barclays has told Said, whose foundation funds Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, that it no longer wants him as a client.

On Friday afternoon in London, the Financial Times was reporting that Saïd was considering legal action against Barclays in response to its action against him and his accounts.

The news of Barclays’ reported move was seen as an example of the growing awareness on the part of major banks of regulatory authorities’ increased willingness to come after them if there is even the slightest possibility that they have failed to carry out the required due diligence on all of their high-net-worth clients, and these clients’ source of wealth — to the point at which it might be deemed easier to let valued clients go than to keep them.

In November, Barclays was fined £72m for arranging transactions for high-net worth individuals who were politically exposed persons. The Financial Conduct Authority  said the UK bank had not carried out the appropriate level of due dilligence on these HNWIs.

Saïd was reportedly informed of the bank’s decision to ask him to close his accounts in December, and given three months to find a new bank. The Barclays blacklist applies both to Saïd’s foundation and to him personally, the Times report said.

Barclays did not give Saïd a reason for blacklisting him, according to The Times.

Wafic Saïd’s background

In the 1980s Saïd was involved in brokering a £43bn arms deal between UK arms manufacturer BAE Systems and the Saudi Arabian government. BAE System’s dealings with the Saudi government were the subject of an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office in the 2000s. The investigation ended after then-prime minister Tony Blair, always a vocal defender of the UK’s close relationship with the Saudi Arabian government, put pressure on his attorney-general Lord Goldsmith to halt it.

In his later years, Saïd, who is a resident of Monaco, has been involved in a number of philanthropic causes through the Saïd Foundation. In its own words, the foundation “works for a brighter future for children in need and talented young people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine and the founding benefactor of the Saïd Business School at Oxford University”.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2014 put Saïd’s net worth at £1.5 bn.

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