Barclays plc (BARC.L) broke internal rules by transferring advisory staff with confidential information to its acquisitions team to help buy a Swedish carbon credit firm, a lawyer for a former client said on Monday.
London-based trading house CF Partners is suing the bank for 82 million euros ($107 million), saying Barclays advised it on a potential bid for Stockholm-based Tricorona in 2008 then used the information to buy the carbon firm itself two years later.
A Barclays spokeswoman called the case "entirely without merit", adding the bank will be "contesting it vigorously".
CF Partners alleges Barclays breached client confidentiality agreements.
"Barclays crossed over five employees from the public side to the private side (of the bank) so that they would be allowed to be part of the deal team, because of the information they received from my clients," said CF Partners' lawyer Tim Lord in a pre-trial court hearing in London on Monday.
Lord said internal Barclays memos would be used as evidence in the case. He also read out excerpts from recorded calls between Barclays and Tricorona employees and internal phone conversations between Barclays employees, which will also be used in the 8-week trial due to start on May 13.
"We know more about (Tricorona's) portfolio than anyone else ... Let's try to close something with (them) ... The opportunity is there right now," Lord said, reading a transcript of a call between two Barclays staff.
"This case that has evolved ... is a fantasy dreamt up by CF Partners," said Ewan McQuater, a lawyer representing Barclays in the case. "There is no clear evidence that (Barclays employees) ... misused confidential information."
Barclays bought Tricorona for $159 million in 2010 and sold it back to the company's management for an undisclosed sum in May 2012.
According to court documents, CF Partners said it identified Tricorona as a takeover prospect and in mid-2008 approached Barclays for debt financing and help with a possible deal.
The documents said Barclays signed a confidentiality agreement and provided advisory services to CF Partners that would have netted the bank around 15 million pounds in fees.
"Barclays never had an advisory relationship with CF Partners. Being a leader in emissions trading, Barclays already had a relationship with Tricorona before it had any involvement with CF Partners," the Barclays spokeswoman said.
CF Partners declined to comment on Monday's court proceedings.