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Business

Barclays' ex-CEO charged over Qatar funding

The UK's Serious Fraud Office has charged British financial behemoth Barclays and four former senior executives with "conspiracy to commit fraud" linked to fundraising from Qatar during the 2008 financial crisis.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said Tuesday it had charged Barclays, a former chief executive of the banking giant and three other ex-managers, with "conspiracy to commit fraud" linked to the bank's emergency fundraising from Qatar at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.  

The SFO added in a statement that former CEO John Varley was one of those who would face court following a five-year investigation.

"The charges relate to Barclays Plc's capital raising arrangements with Qatar Holding LLC and Challenger Universal Ltd, which took place in June and October 2008," the SFO said. Challenger Universal was an investment vehicle for Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who was Qatar's prime minister at the time.

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The SFO added that the charges also relate to a $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) loan facility made available to the State of Qatar acting through the country's Ministry of Economy and Finance in November 2008.

The other three charged are Barclays' former executive chairman of investment banking Roger Jenkins, the former chief executive of Barclays wealth and investment management Thomas Kalaris, and former European head of financial institutions group Richard Boath.

The defendants will appear before London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on July 3, the statement said.

Evading government control

In a separate statement, Barclays said it "is considering its position in relation to these developments" as it "awaits further details of the charges from the SFO."

UK watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) already fined Barclays 50 million pounds (57 million euros, $63.5 million) in 2013 after the bank failed to disclose fees it paid to the Qatari investors. Barclays contested the fine however, which has been on hold awaiting the SFO's investigation outcome. In addition, US authorities are also probing the payments.

 

In a statement Tuesday, the FCA said: "We welcome a fair and transparent hearing on the basis of the charges set out today by the SFO."

SFO Investigations had focused on advisory services worth 322 million pounds, which Barclays agreed to pay the Qatar Investment Authority.

By raising money from Qatar, Barclays avoided a UK government bailout at a time when rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds had no choice but to be pumped with British taxpayers' money.

Tuesday's announcement comes as current Barclays chief executive Jes Staley is facing a probe by regulators after he tried to uncover the identity of a whistleblower.

In January, Barclays announced a new round of job cuts, slashing 1,200 positions at its investment banking division, exiting from its Russia business and closing offices across Asia. The job losses were the first round of cutbacks unveiled by Staley and followed a wave of thousands of layoffs, which began in 2014.

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sri/tr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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