UPDATE: Nightmare over for UK banker held in Qatar
April 30, 2010
DAVID PROCTORS biography as a career banker remains proudly displayed on the website of Al-Khaliji Bank, the three-year-old Qatari bank where "we pride ourselves in finding ways to do things differently".
Outwardly, theres nothing particularly unusual about that. Bank executives often have their CVs puffed on the About us tab of their banks websites. And Gulf banks do it often, both projecting a progressive image and boasting about the foreign talent theyve lured to modernize their oil and gas-drenched emirates as emergent financial centres.
And what bank, particularly an ambitious start-up like Al-Khaliji with regional ambitions, wouldnt puff a CV like Proctors? Hes Cambridge-educated, 25 years a banker, solidly trained at Midland and then with a long stint at Bank of America, rising to be its boss in Bangkok, where he chaired the foreign bankers lobby during the 1990s Thai financial crisis. In 1999, he made a move to what would seem the natural habitat of this Peterhouse alumnus, Standard Chartered, as its global head of client relationships. He was made CEO of StanCharts European group, then its boss in the Gulf until 2006, and was a favourite of its former executive chairman Mervyn Davies now Baron Davies of Abersoch, Britains minister for trade and investment.
Indeed, as Al-Khaliji gushes of its "special adviser to the chairman and managing director", Proctors "breadth of understanding of the banking market honed in the course of his 25 years in the industry has equipped him as a natural leader with a proven track record of success at all points in the economic cycle". Proctor reads as a combination of process man and safe hand, combining emerging market exotica with the ambassadorial polish of an international banker. His experience leasing planes, ships and oil refineries would also seem perfect for the resource-rich Qatari story.
So, whats wrong with this picture? And why should anyone care?
Because as with much in this reclusive, gas-rich Gulf monarchy, one of the worlds richest yet least transparent countries, not everything is as it appears. Proctors "special adviser" designation on the Al-Khaliji website seems as phony as what many anxious foreign bankers and businessmen in Doha posit is Qatars genuine commitment to due legal process. Qatar widely advertises a "worlds best practices" mantra but that is increasingly questioned internationally of financial centres across the Gulf as once-soaring Arab ambitions dissolve in a desert storm of bad debt and finger-pointing.
But Qatars claims to openness and transparency are questionable in Proctors case. Search the Al-Khaliji website and there is no official announcement that David Proctor is no longer the banks CEO. The only public pronouncement on the matter was a statement posted on the Doha Securities Markets website in March last year announcing his new position as special adviser. No reasons were given for the sudden change.
Moreover, Proctor hired in February 2007 to create and build government-controlled Al-Khaliji into Qatars first regional bank hasnt actually provided any advice or management for almost a year, not since Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal Bin Thani Al-Thani was installed as the banks new chairman in February last year. Proctor appears to be caught in a power struggle within Qatars ruling elite over control of the emirates emerging financial sector.
|David Proctor's biography as a career banker remains proudly displayed on the website of Al-Khaliji Bank, the three-year-old Qatari bank where "we pride ourselves in finding ways to do things differently"|
A senior member of Qatars remote ruling Al-Thani family, Sheikh Hamad is a former colleague of Qatars powerful finance minister Yousef Hussain Kamal. The sheikh was Kamals recent deputy at the finance ministry and is himself a former commerce minister. The wealthy Kamal is a prominent businessman in the emirate. Hes best-known for his long-time chairmanship of the countrys biggest bank, Qatar National Bank, an Al-Khaliji competitor. His former vice-chairman at QNB? None other than Sheikh Hamad.