Syrian billionaire philanthropist and former arms dealer Wafic Saïd is reportedly suing Barclays after the bank informed him it no longer wanted him or his foundation as a client.
Saïd, who says he has banked with Barclays for more than 40 years, described the decision to close his accounts without giving him a reason as “cavalier”.
In an announcement on Wednesday, printed in The Guardian, Saïd’s public relations representative Bell Pottinger said: “Wafic Saïd has today instructed his solicitors Carter-Ruck to issue proceedings in the high court against Barclays bank for an order compelling the bank to comply with its obligations under the Data Protection Act.
“This follows the bank’s failure to provide Mr Said with access to any documents or data concerning its decision to close various bank accounts connected to Mr Saïd including those of his charity, the Saïd Foundation. Mr Saïd said he was not prepared to be treated in this cavalier manner by a bank he had worked with for more than 40 years.”
Barclays’ decision to close Saïd’s accounts came after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined the bank £72m for arranging transactions for high-net worth individuals who were politically exposed persons without conducting what the FCA considered appropriate levels of due dilligence.
Saïd, whose foundation funds the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, was informed of the blacklist in December, and given three months to find an alternative bank. The ban applies to both Saïd’s personal accounts and those of his foundation.
Outside the charity work, Saïd is best known for brokering a £43bn arms deal between UK arms manufacturer BAE Systems and the Saudi Arabian government in the 1980s. 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 put pressure on his attorney-general Lord Goldsmith to halt it.
Now a resident of Monaco, Saïd 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.