Jordan’s Royal Committee for Enhancing the National Integrity System held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss a lawsuit filed by Qatari firm Al-Musabalah Doha Capital against Jordan’s Social Security Investment Funds (SSIF), demanding the latter pay a $93 million fine for failing to implement an alleged agreement signed by the two parties in March where the SSIF is said to have sold the Qatari company its stake in Jordan’s Housing Bank for Trade and Finance. The “alleged” deal is worth around $460 million for 38.8 million shares, almost 16 per cent of the Housing Bank’s total shares.
Al-Bawaba news site reports that according to the former chairman of the SSIF, Yaser Odwan, the Qatari National Bank already owns around 35 per cent of the Housing Bank’s shares. The former official, who denied that any deal was agreed during his term as the Qatari firm is claiming, told the news site that if it had, “this [would mean] that the headquarters of the bank could be moved anytime to Doha.”
The SSIF’s current Chairman Suleiman Al-Hafiz explained that he was surprised to receive an email from a Zurich court on 26 November accusing the SSIF of failing to implement its part in an alleged deal to sell its shares in the Amman-based Bank to the Qatari firm. Al-Hafiz told Anadolu News Agency on Wednesday: “the case is now before the courts. I do not have further information other than what is in the statement.”
Hafiz had issued an earlier statement disputing the alleged deal after a thorough investigation into the SSIF’s documents, meeting minutes and correspondences did not yield anything to indicate that the agreement existed. He explained that a leading legal office in Switzerland will defend the SSIF since “the case falls under Swiss judicial jurisdiction”, asserting that the SSIF had to take immediate legal action to protect its rights.
Jordan’s SSIF has estimated investments worth around $8.46 billion across several different sectors.
Al-Hafiz pointed out that the “SSIF’s stake in Jordan’s Housing Bank for Trade and Finance is part of our long-term strategic vision. We have other shares in large financial establishments including the Arab Bank of Jordan, as well as mining, communication companies and other national companies, and we have no intention whatsoever to sell any of our strategic shares.”