* Unitech tries to add Libor to claims against Deutsche
* UK judge dismisses Libor-focused amendments to case
* Despite setback, Unitech to pursue Libor angle
By Estelle Shirbon
LONDON, March 1 Indian real estate developer
Unitech wants to add allegations linked to the manipulation of
Libor to an existing dispute with Deutsche Bank, in a move that
could set a precedent for cases against other banks.
Unitech is involved in a legal dispute with
Deutsche Bank over a $150 million loan and related
interest rate swap agreed in 2007 and which Deutsche Bank
alleges it did not pay back.
It has tried to amend its counter-claims against Deutsche's
allegation in light of revelations about Libor rigging since the
suit was launched in March 2012, legal documents show.
Unitech has sought to argue that the loan and swap
agreements were invalid because they were tied to Libor when it
was being manipulated, although so far the court has not allowed
it to add that argument to its counter-claim.
Unitech initially argued it was an unsophisticated investor
mis-sold complex financial products by the German bank.
Deutsche Bank is under investigation by German financial
services watchdog BaFin over alleged Libor manipulation. It
suspended two traders last year for Libor-related misconduct.
If successful, Unitech's attempt to use the scandal to
bolster its position in the Deutsche lawsuit could be a worrying
sign of things to come for other banks involved in rigging
Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS
have already been fined over their role in fixing
Libor. A number of other banks in several countries are under
Unitech's move comes after news that Guardian Care Homes, a
residential care home operator in England, was suing Barclays
for up to 37 million pounds ($56 million) in a claim that it was
mis-sold interest rate hedging products based on Libor.
Unitech suffered a setback on Thursday when judge Jeremy
Cooke dismissed its proposed amendments, but John Brisby, a
lawyer for Unitech, told the court on Friday he intended to file
revised amendments on the Libor issue that would address the
points made by the judge.
"If the defendants had been told (as Deutsche Bank knew)
that Libor was being rigged ... and that Deutsche Bank was one
of the banks involved in this manipulation, they would not have
entered into either of those agreements," lawyers for Unitech
wrote in a skeleton argument prepared ahead of this week's
hearings and seen by Reuters.
Deutsche Bank rejects all Unitech's arguments in relation to
"This is a long-standing case of a loan that was made and
never paid back," the bank said in a statement.
"The defendant's subsequent and unfounded allegations about
Libor, one iteration of which has already been rejected by the
court, are an attempt to divert attention from its unpaid debt.
"They do not change our view that the defendant's
allegations of mis-selling are without merit, as are its claims
that it was anything other than a sophisticated investor with
considerable financial experience."
There will be a further pre-trial hearing at a later date to
consider Unitech's revised amendments. The case is scheduled to
come to trial in January 2014.