Barclays Group  

Barclays and four execs face criminal charges

Barclays and four execs face criminal charges

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged Barclays with three offences in connection with dealings in Qatar during the financial crisis. 

Four former executives, including former chief executive John Varley, have also been charged.

The bank said that it is “considering its position”.

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It is not known yet whether Barclays plans to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.

The bank has been charged with two offences of conspiring with former senior officers and employees to commit fraud by false representations, and one offence of unlawful financial assistance.

The charges relate to emergency actions that Barclays bosses took in 2008 to avoid a bail-out.

More than 45 individuals were interviewed as part of the SFO probe, which has taken five years.

Barclays undertook two cash calls in 2008.

The bank raised £4.5bn in June 2008 and a further £7.3bn in October 2008 from investors in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere. 

The probe relates to £322m of "advisory services payments" made to Qatari investors during the fundraising. 

Then financial regulator the Financial Services Authority said in 2013 that these payments had not been disclosed.

The regulator was planning to fine Barclays £50m, a penalty that Barclays said it would fight, but this was put on hold because of the SFO probe.

"We are pleased that this matter, which led to the stay of our own case, is now in the public domain," the FCA announced in a statement today.

"We welcome a fair and transparent hearing on the basis of the charges set out today by the SFO. We work closely with the SFO across a range of matters, in pursuit of our distinct objectives. ”

 The SFO has informed Barclays that it has not made a decision as to whether it will also bring charges against Barclays Bank PLC in respect of the loan.

 As well as John Varley, former star banker Roger Jenkins, ex-wealth division head Thomas Kalaris, and former global co-head of finance Richard Boath have all been charged and will face magistrates in Westminster on 3 July.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell said that this is the most important case Barclays has faced. 

“This is the most significant charging decision for the SFO in recent times if not ever,” said partner Sarah Wallace.

"In the last few years, Barclays faced an unprecedented number of investigations by worldwide regulators but this SFO criminal prosecution is the most serious.

"In taking on Barclays, one of the largest banks in the world, and its most senior officials who literally were at the very top, sends a very strong message that the SFO is now fearless in terms of the companies and individuals it pursues.” 

rosie.murray-west@ft.com