| LONDON, June 11
LONDON, June 11 Billionaire Nordic investor
Alexander Vik appeared at a London court on Wednesday to begin
giving evidence in his $8 billion damages claim against Deutsche
Bank over trades by his company Sebastian Holdings
during the financial crisis.
In the case, one of the largest claims heard by the High
Court in London, Sebastian Holdings alleges it ran up big losses
after Deutsche Bank put through trades which it shouldn't have
as Sebastian's prime broker between 2006 and 2008.
The damages claim is a countersuit to legal action brought
by the German bank, which alleges the investment company owes it
$250 million for unpaid margin calls in 2008.
Deutsche Bank has said it would vigorously defend itself
against damages claims the bank said were without merit.
Vik's arrival at court attracted local photographers and
press, as well as media from his native Norway, where there is
great interest in the secretive businessman.
Looking smart in a dark blue suit and patterned tie, a
relaxed Vik responded confidently to questions posed by Deutsche
"I am successful, hard-working, an experienced investor and
company manager, but I am not a professional trader," Vik said
when asked about the highly-leveraged and complex currency
trades undertaken for Sebastian Holdings that are at the centre
of the case.
In October 2008, when financial markets tumbled, these
trades went sour. Sebastian Holdings had $1 billion of its
equity wiped out and faced $511 million in margin calls - a
demand by a broker that an investor deposit more cash to cover
potential losses on trades.
Sebastian Holdings said these trades were unauthorised and
should not have been booked by Deutsche Bank. It also alleges
the bank failed to inform it that the collateral needed to
guarantee the high-risk trades would exceed a pre-arranged $35
Deutsche Bank denied the allegations and maintains it had no
obligation to monitor and control the transactions.
"I am an investor, a long-term investor ... but financial
products are very difficult to understand. It's not possible for
me to have product knowledge," Vik said.
The Norwegian, who studied economics at Harvard University
and spent 10 years working as a stock broker before setting up
his own businesses, has made a large personal fortune through
internet investments, luxury hotels and real estate development.
He told the court he could not recall what his personal
wealth was at the beginning of his relationship with Deutsche
Bank and described the court's requests to see documents
relating to one of his personal bank accounts as "complete
Vik, who also owns a vineyard in Chile and a premium
Norwegian vodka brand, is scheduled to give evidence into next
week. The case is expected to conclude at the end of this month.
A separate case between Sebastian Holdings and Deutsche Bank
in New York is also expected to resume this month.