Fred Goodwin has been accused of playing a pivotal role in the 2008 financial crash - now Taiwanese shipping tycoon Nobu Su has announced he intends to bring legal action against the former RBS boss, whom he claims cost his business £2.5bn as a result of negligence and insider trading, a process he has referred to as "taking candy from a baby"
A Taiwanese shipping magnate has announced he will sue ex-RBS boss Fred Goodwin for up to £2.5bn for allegedly using his company’s money to keep his bank afloat – marking one of the biggest lawsuits ever filed against a British individual.
Billionaire chairman of shipping company Today Makes Tomorrow (TMT) Nobu Su has accused Mr Goodwin, along with two former senior colleagues and RBS itself, of “hijacking” his firm’s accounts and using them as “unlimited cash machines”.
Mr Goodwin, 60, “siphoned off” billions of dollars from the bank without consent between 2007 and 2009 when both RBS and its largest private client at the time TMT were financially insecure, claims Mr Su.
He also accuses RBS of exploiting his company assets, including vast fleets of container ships, liquified natural gas (LNG) ships, very large crude carriers (VLCC) and bulk tankers worth up to $500m (£382m) each.
Additionally, Mr Su – who was one of Asia’s wealthiest men at the time – claims Mr Goodwin and former colleagues Neena Birdie and Marie Chang are guilty of insider trading and manipulating shares worth just under $100m (£76m).
These actions cost TMT $3.6bn (£2.5bn) and put its future in jeopardy, according to the 59-year-old, who said the accused trio and RBS were “negligent in protecting his business interests” and wanted to “injure” him by “unlawful means”.
Mr Su’s started legal proceedings in 2014 but his case dropped when a Singaporean court ruled that it would have to be heard in London.
According to a statement issued on his website on 14 Friday, Mr Su is now preparing a claim against Mr Goodwin, Ms Birdie, Ms Chang, The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (trading as RBS Greenwich Futures) and The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (Singapore Branch) in the British courts.
He said: “After what has been an especially difficult decade due to our relationship with RBS, I now fully intend to recover my firm’s losses in full.
“I understand that there is no way of doing so in Singapore and as such intend to bring a legal action against those involved in London where, I trust, justice will be served.”
Who is Nobu Su?
After Mr Su inherited inherited TMT from his late father, he transformed the company from a small marine transportation firm into a multi-billion-dollar global enterprise that ultimately shipped an average of 250,000 tonnes of goods daily around the world.
In his book The Gold Man From the East, released this week, however, he claims TMT was almost “destroyed” after he placed his money in the hands of RBS “vultures”, while its accounts were systematically “plundered” through a variety of “clever, intricate and stealthy” means.
“We came skipping into their yard, full of trust and eager to be accepted, with our pockets full of gold—and they mugged us,” wrote Mr Su.
He has also tweeted: “I will be soon be relaunching legal action against RBS, Fred Goodwin & 2 of his former associates in the High Court, London, in a £3bn claim for negligence.
The exact details of the claim have not yet been disclosed.
Breaking down Mr Su’s lawsuit against Fred Goodwin
Mr Su’s book reveals a series of allegations about what he claims happened to his company’s money, some of which refer to actions by RBS and Mr Goodwin, who he claimed:
•Made a series of fraudulent remittances and transfers totalling some $3.6bn (£2.5bn) of TMT funds for its own advantage and without Mr Su’s consent.
• Profited from dozens of needless “margin calls”– demands for multi-million-dollar chunks of capital.
• Employed the same secretive tactics used by “money launderers working for drug cartels” to secretly transfer Mr Su’s cash into other accounts, including one at JPMorgan Chase against whom he is currently suing for $12m (£9.1m).
• Used TMT funds without consent and without Mr Su’s knowledge to part fund the widely derided acquisition of Dutch rival ABN AMRO in 2007.
• Was involved in a form of insider trading known as “front-running” where confidential information about TMT was shared with and used to make money from its competitors.
• Used TMT assets as collateral without consent to raise a loan through America’s Primary Dealer Credit Facility.
“TMT is the perfect victim for Royal Bank of Scotland,” Mr Su said in his book.
“We’re privately-owned, exist outside Western regulatory oversights and, as an Asian company, we have no ‘friends’ to protect us from the vultures in the City of London and on Wall Street.
“Manipulating TMT’s accounts was like taking candy from a baby.”
Who is Fred Goodwin?
Fred Goodwin was listed by Time magazine as one of the 25 people to blame for the 2008 financial crisis, and had the knighthood he received in 2004 removed eight years later.
This is the second time he has faced legal action for his alleged part in the near-demise of RBS.
He avoided a summons to the High Court in 2017 when thousands of shareholders, who complained about being misled into buying the bank’s shares, accepted an outside settlement.
Compelo has contact RBS for comment.