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Nobu Su locked in court battle with RBS trio

Nobu Su’s tirade against banks has been taken to a new level. The Taiwanese boss of bankrupt TMT has launched a lawsuit in Singapore against the former chief executive of UK bank RBS, Fred Goodwin, and two other former employees at the bank, saying the trio breached their fiduciary duties to the bank and were negligent in protecting his business interests. He claims the trio moved billions of dollars from his account without his consent.

Su maintains the bankers “conspired to injure Mr Su by unlawful means” from 2007 to 2009.

Details about the case are sketchy, and RBS are declining to comment. Su mentioned he has “long been disgruntled with RBS”.

“In his claim, Mr Su tells of how he placed his trust in the bank, only to discover RBS fraudulently misled him of his true commercial position and consistently issued inaccurate statements with improper and erroneous margin requirements, resulting in considerable loss and damage to his business interests,” a statement on behalf of Su states.

Su claims the trio “made remittances and transfers on a number of occasions for their own purposes without his consent”.

Su alleges $3.6bn was siphoned from his account without his approval.

In 2013, Su claimed RBS bet against him in the derivatives market when it was supposed to be acting for him, which he alleges cost him around $1 billion. He also said a year later that the bank manipulated the value of assets held as collateral for his positions.

Su wrote to RBS chief executive Ross McEwan last month requesting an explanation as to how an $85m margin call made by RBS in August 2008 was calculated.

RBS said it is contesting the jurisdiction of Su’s legal action.

In December, Su claimed the financial crisis was “planned to rescue bankers” and that TMT’s balance sheet had been “hijacked” by RBS to help out the global banking system in the financial crisis.

Su, who has been fighting court battles on multiple fronts since declaring bankruptcy, has reckoned for a long time market forces were beyond his control for his mistimed investments.

One of the industry’s most enigmatic characters, far more technically astute than most other shipowners (pioneering previously unheard of ship conversions, for example), Su got big by betting big. He was the largest FFA player during the boom years (accounting for 15% of all trades at his peak) and he was right about Chinese iron ore imports, but he grew too big, too fast and when things turned, he had nowhere to go.

Su was unavailable for comment when contacted by Splash today.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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