UBS is facing a $500 million lawsuit in London brought by an exiled Chinese businessman after an appeal court rejected the Swiss bank’s latest attempt to have the case dismissed on Wednesday. Guo Wengui, a former billionaire known as Kwok Ho Wan, and his company Ace Decade have sued the London branch of Switzerland’s largest bank over an indirect investment in Chinese brokerage, Haitong Securities. Guo claims that he and Ace Decade lost nearly their entire $500 million investment after UBS forced the sale of so-called H-shares during a market rout in July 2015.
UBS argued last month in London’s Court of Appeal that Guo and Ace Decade could only sue the bank in Switzerland, an argument rejected by a lower court last year. However, UBS’s appeal was denied in a written decision issued on Wednesday. UBS previously informed a lower court that the claims were completely denied. On Wednesday, UBS declined to comment. Lawyers for Guo and Ace Decade did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Guo, who filed for individual bankruptcy in the United States in February 2022, was not represented at the hearing last month. According to the court, his U.S. bankruptcy trustee wrote to the court to say he took a neutral position on the appeal. UBS’s lawyer, David Quest, had asked the Court of Appeal to overturn a lower court decision allowing the case to proceed in London, claiming that the investment was made and the advice was given in China.
“The damage caused to Ace Decade and (Guo) occurred in London when the H-shares… were sold by UBS London,” wrote Judge Geoffrey Vos in his written ruling on Wednesday.
“The claims undoubtedly arose from UBS London’s operations,” he wrote in his decision. “UBS London played a significant role in the events that gave rise to both the claim and the loss claimed.”
Union Bank of Switzerland (“Union de Banques Suisses” or “Unione di Banche Svizzere” in French or Italian, respectively) is abbreviated as UBS. It’s spelled “Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft” in German. When Union Bank and Swiss Bank merged, the new entity was known as UBS.
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According to people familiar with the matter, UBS will continue to operate in global markets and conduct research in India. According to a bank spokesperson, UBS remains committed to its business in India and maintains a significant presence both onshore and in the region.