Unitech Can Claim Deutsche Bank Libor Dishonesty, Judge Rules

Unitech Ltd., an Indian property firm, won permission from a London judge to argue that Deutsche Bank AG dishonestly fixed interest rates in a U.K. trial over a derivative contract.

While Unitech can’t use rigging allegations to annul the disputed interest-rate swap, it can file a counter-claim for damages caused by the German lender’s alleged attempts to influence the London interbank offered rate, Judge Nigel Teare said today.

Both the swap dispute and any claim linked to Libor must be decided at a trial, he said in a written ruling.

U.K. judges have taken differing approaches on lawsuits related to Libor-fixing allegations, which led to criminal and regulatory probes across the globe and fines totaling about $2.5 billion for investment banks that tried to manipulate the interest-rate benchmark for profit.

Unitech lost its first attempt in February to add Libor allegations to its U.K. lawsuit. Another judge granted a U.K. care home operator’s request to sue Barclays Plc for fraud related to the benchmark in a separate swap case. Both decisions were appealed and will be decided in a joint appeal-court hearing scheduled for October.

“This is a long-standing case of a loan that was made and never paid back,” said Kathryn Hanes, a London spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank. Unitech’s “unfounded allegations about Libor are an attempt to delay payment and divert attention from its remaining unpaid debt on a swap agreement tied to the loan.”

Judge Teare said Unitech couldn’t try to rescind the $150 million loan owed to Deutsche Bank and other lenders, and must repay the money. Deutsche Bank sued the Indian company last year saying it was owed $11 million under the swap.

Unitech’s lawyer, Richard Gwynne, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. In May, the New Delhi-based real estate developer missed analysts’ fourth quarter estimates with profits of 303 million rupees ($4.9 million).

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