Four former Barclays bankers in court over Qatari deal

Former Chief Executive of Barclays, John Varley (C), arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London on July 3, 2017. AFP / Tolga AKMEN

LONDON: Four former top Barclays executives appeared in court in London Monday to face charges that they conspired to commit fraud during the bank’s 12 billion pound ($15.56 billion) emergency fundraising in 2008. Former Chief Executive John Varley along with Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath were charged by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office last month in the first criminal prosecution for senior bankers’ actions during the financial crisis. Barclays PLC was also charged with fraud and unlawful financial assistance.

Lawyers representing Jenkins and Boath said in June they would contest the charges, while those representing Varley and Kalaris declined to comment. Barclays, which has previously said it is considering its position, declined to comment.

In a 60-minute hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the case was sent to Southwark Crown Court, with the next hearing scheduled for July 17. The defendants did not enter any pleas.

The case is likely to be the last chance for prosecutors in the U.K. to bring criminal charges against bank executives for actions taken during the financial crisis, with the charges carrying a maximum jail term of 10 years.

It is also a test of the Serious Fraud Office, after the ruling Conservative Party in its election manifesto called for the prosecutor to be folded into the National Crime Agency.

The case centers on agreements between Barclays and Qatari investors during two fundraisings in June and October 2008.

Qatar Holding, part of the Qatar Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund, and Challenger, an investment vehicle of former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, invested around 5.3 billion pounds in Barclays.

Authorities have examined whether payments from Barclays to Qatar at the same time, such as around 322 million pounds in “advisory services agreements,” alongside the $3 billion loan, were honest and properly disclosed.

Varley, 61; former Middle East and North African investment banking head Jenkins, 61; Kalaris, once the CEO of Barclays Wealth, also 61; and Boath, a 58-year-old former European head of financial institutions, were charged over disclosure of the June 2008 deal.

Varley and Jenkins face a further charge for the October deal, and a charge of “unlawful financial assistance” that alleges the fundraising breached rules preventing a company lending a third party money to buy its own shares. Chris Lucas, finance director of Barclays in 2008, is listed as a co-conspirator to the charges, but has not been charged.

A lawyer who represents Lucas declined to comment.

Jenkins, who lives in the United States, and Kalaris, who has dual nationality, were each asked to post 500,000 pounds in bail.

The other defendants were not given any bail requirements.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 04, 2017, on page 5.




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