Qatar bars FAB from adding clients amid probe

DUBAI • Qatar banned the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) biggest bank from growing its business in the country amid an investigation into the potential manipulation of its currency.

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC (FAB) won’t be able to add new customers and engage in any regulated activities including taking deposits, providing credit facilities and arranging deals in investments, the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority said on its website.

The restriction doesn’t stop the lender, which operates one wholesale banking branch in Doha, from continuing to provide services to existing customers.

In the statement, the authority said the bank failed to comply with a court order “to produce an affidavit demonstrating its preservation of documents relevant to an ongoing regulatory investigation into potential manipulation of the Qatari riyal”.

Qatar’s central bank is investigating suspected attempts to devalue the riyal at the height of a diplomatic standoff with Gulf neighbours in 2017.

The nation keeps the currency pegged to the dollar.

But after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt accused it of backing terrorism — a charge Qatar denies — and imposed an economic boycott, the riyal came under pressure in the offshore market.

Gas-rich Qatar has offset the blow on its economy by finding ways around the sanctions to withstand the boycott. — Bloomberg