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Barclays banker insists sex joke shows he is innocent

Barclays banker insists sex joke shows he is innocent

A banker who joked about trying to avoid prison because "the food sucks and the sex is worse", claimed the comment revealed his commitment to upholding the law.

Ex-head of wealth management at Barclays Tom Kalaris, 63, is accused alongside former chief executive John Varley, 62, and colleagues Roger Jenkins, 63, and Richard Boath, 60, of fraudulently covering up a deal worth billions at the height of the financial crisis.

Prosecutors allege that the gang of high-ranking execs managed to raise £11.8bn in emergency fundraising from Qatar in 2008 by making secret payments to the Gulf state in a separate deal called an advisory services agreement or ASA.

The full extent of the deal - which allowed the bank to avoid taking a taxpayer bailout - was allegedly covered up by the defendants in order to protect their enormous bonuses.

Southwark Crown Court has today (March 1) heard how Kalaris justified his jokes about the deal potentially landing him in jail, telling investigators at the Serious Fraud Office that the comments would make up part of his defence.

In a call between Boath and Kalaris played before the jury at an earlier hearing, the pair discuss how the services agreement, supposedly for advice from the Qataris, would be kept distinct from the investment fees, called the subscription agreement.

In the recording, Boath explains to Kalaris that the bank’s position would be that: "Whatever we do will not be related to this subscription agreement, but frankly we all know that whatever we enter into we are entering into in exchange for the subscription agreement."

Kalaris replies: "Yeah, yeah that’s right. None of us wants to go to jail here."

"It ain’t worth it and apparently the food sucks," continues Boath.

"No, the food sucks and the sex is worse," jokes Kalaris.

Today, prosecutor Philip Stott told how Kalaris explained to investigators: "We were not prepared to act unlawfully - I was stressing that the legal department and Barclays’ commercial lawyers needed to be sure.

"By saying 'none of us want to go to jail', I certainly did not mean that the matter should be disguised or hidden.

"We had no desire to be swept up in something that could be deemed illegal.

"I maintain that the transaction had to be legal, I was anxious to ensure just that the transaction had to be legal," Kalaris told the financial inspector.

"I was satisfied that the decision was fully in the hands of the lawyers. It was not my role to ensure that disclosure was made and in what form.

"Mr Boath and I were clearly aware of the sensitivities around this aspect of the deal. It was important for us that Ms Hardy [the bank’s layer] had complete oversight.

"Advice to the bank was clear and acted upon.

"For the avoidance of doubt, I am certain that the bank’s in house and external lawyers were given accurate and complete information about the nature of the ASA."