Terms of settlement agreed with Bank Mellat

Shimon Goldwater made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Her Majesty's Treasury

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

Please can you tell me the main terms of the settlement agreement reached between HM Treasury and Bank Mellat in respect of the long-running litigation between the parties which settled in June 2019 just before trial.

Yours faithfully,

Shimon Goldwater

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

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FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ   www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Goldwater

 

Please find attached HM Treasury’s response to your information request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights Team | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ  [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

 

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Shimon Goldwater

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your letter dated 14 August 2019.

I disagree with your assessment, and request an internal review of this matter for the reasons set out below.

1) You rely on section 41 - this applies where the information sought was "obtained by the public authority from any other person". That is simply not the case here. Terms of settlement were presumably agreed between HM Treasury and Bank Mellat by negotiation. No information was provided to HM Treasury in confidence "from [another] person", so section 41 does not apply.

2) You rely on section 44(1)(c) - this applies where disclosure of the information sought would constitute a contempt of court. You do not explain why this exemption would apply here. Has the court ordered HM Treasury not to disclose the information requested. Or, as would be more normal, has the court merely given its approval (e.g. via a Tomlin order) to a settlement agreement which HM Treasury and Bank Mellat have entered into which contains a confidentiality clause. If the latter, then I do not understand why it would be a contempt of court for HM Treasury to disclose the information sought.

3) You rely on section 43(2), the exemption for information which, if disclosed, "would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it)". As you note, this exemption is subject to the public interest test, i.e. whether "the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information" (section (2)(2)(b).

I disagree that the disclosure of the information sought will prejudice the commercial interests of either HM Treasury of any other person, including Bank Mellat. You do not specify any particular prejudice which disclosure of this specific information would cause to any particular person's commercial interests, instead referring generally to the need to ensure that the Treasury is able to keep terms of settlement confidential where this has been agreed between the parties, because disclosure would prejudice their commercial interests. Again, you do not specify what form the prejudice might take, or set out why it would be likely to occur. You are reciting the wording of the exemption without setting out how it applies to this case.

You then rely on essentially the same argument as a reason why the public interest is balanced against disclosure. This generic argument would exempt all settlements including confidentiality agreements from disclosure. This is not in the public interest. This case itself presents a good example. Surely it is in the public interest for UK taxpayers to know how much of their money has been paid to an Iranian bank in settlement of a £1.3 Billion claim against HM Treasury. Bank Mellat is part-owned by the Iranian state. So at least part of the settlement funds could be used to finance, for example, the Iranian nuclear programme, something which some taxpayers might not support. Your letter does not even begin to assess the two sides of the balancing exercise which must be carried out to determine, if relevant, whether disclosure of this information, even if commercially prejudicial (which I do not accept it is), is in the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Shimon Goldwater

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

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FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Dear Mr Goldwater

Thank you for your email regarding your request for an internal review.

I can confirm that your review request was received on 18 August 2019 and is receiving attention under our reference R44/19.

There is no statutory deadline for responding to internal review requests.

However, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidelines and the 2018 FOI Code of Practice, we aim to complete internal reviews within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear FOI Requests,

I refer to your email dated 19 August 2019 stating that an internal review would be carried out in respect of my request. You wrote that you aim to complete internal reviews "within 20 working days". Many more than 20 working days have now passed, and you have not provided me with any results of the internal review, or an update of when I should expect to receive the results of that internal review. I would be grateful for an update.

Yours sincerely,

Shimon Goldwater

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Dear Mr Goldwater

I can confirm that your review request is receiving attention and we aim to respond within 10 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your email dated 22 October 2019. You wrote that I would have a response within 10 working days. By my calculation 10 working days have now passed, and I have not received a response. Please confirm the position.

Yours sincerely,

Shimon Goldwater

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Dear Mr Goldwater

I am sorry for the ongoing delay. The review is being finalised and we
expect to provide our response by 15 November.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights Team | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear FOI Requests,

The 15 November 2019 has come and gone. I wonder whether you can provide your response.

Yours sincerely,

Shimon Goldwater

Dear FOI Requests,

I would be grateful for an update. You wrote confirming that you would provide me with the results of the internal review by 15 November 2019, and it is now 25 November 2019.

Yours sincerely,

Shimon Goldwater

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Thank you for your email.  This is an automatic acknowledgement to confirm
that we have received your communication safely.  Please do not reply to
this email. 

 

Please note that this mailbox is only for requests made under the Freedom
of Information Act (FOI).

 

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[1][email address]

 

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FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Goldwater

 

Please find attached HM Treasury's internal review response. I apologise
for the long delay in providing it.

 

I have copied below the link to published information cited in the review
response.

 

[1]https://www.parliament.uk/business/publi...

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights Team | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ  [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

 

 

This email and any files transmitted with it are intended solely for the
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2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury