Barclays charged with fraud over Qatar-backed rescue

Barclays charged with fraud over Qatar-backed rescue
British multinational bank Barclays and four former executives have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in the bank’s 2008 capital raising from Qatar.

The announcement by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) marks the culmination of a five-year investigation into the emergency action Barclays took in 2008 to avoid a state bailout when Britain’s banking system was on the verge of collapse.

The case revolves around the £322 million ($410 million) in fees the British bank paid to Qatari investors for a loan as part of a wider £12 billion fundraising during the 2008 financial crisis. The Barclays deal with Qatar also included a $3 billion loan.

The SFO said Barclays former Chief Executive Officer John Varley, former chairman of investment banking for the Middle East Roger Jenkins, ex-deputy head of investment banking Richard Boath and ex-wealth chief Thomas Kalaris face charges along with the bank.

Varley and Jenkins both face three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and unlawful financial assistance.

A lawyer for the 61-year-old Jenkins said his client would “vigorously defend against these charges.”

“As one might expect in the challenging circumstances of 2008, Mr. Jenkins sought and received both internal and external legal advice on each and every subject mentioned in the accusations leveled by the SFO today,” said Jenkins’ US-based lawyer Brad Kaufman.

The four defendants are to appear in a London court on July 3.

The bank said in a statement it was “considering its position.”

Since the financial crisis, Barclays has faced different investigations, including into the manipulation of the main benchmark rates and the way executives dealt with whistleblowers.

Last year four former Barclays’ traders were found guilty of Libor rigging between 2005 and 2007. The verdicts came four years after Barclays received a hefty fine over rate-fixing. The case provoked political and public reaction forcing the bank's CEO Bob Diamond to resign.