Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged Barclays bank and four former managers, including a chief executive, with "conspiracy to commit fraud" when they sought investment from Qatar in the 2008 financial crisis.

The bank, former chief executive John Varley, former investment banking chief Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, who headed the bank's wealth management division, and Roger Boath, head of the European financial institutions group, were all charged on Tuesday in relation to a first round of investment in June 2008.

"The Serious Fraud Office has today charged Barclays Plc and four individuals with conspiracy to commit fraud and the provision of unlawful financial assistance" linked to capital raising from Qatar in 2008, the SFO said in a statement.

"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.

It added that they relate also to a $3bn loan facility made available to Qatar acting through the country's Ministry of Economy and Finance in November 2008.

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

Barclays responded that it "awaits further details of the charges from the SFO".

Jenkins will vigorously defend himself against the criminal charges, his lawyer said.

"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 topic covered by the SFO's accusations today," Brad Kaufman, long-time counsel for Jenkins at US law firm Greenberg Traurig, told Reuters news agency.

Barclays shares were down 0.3 percent in early trading on the London Stock Exchange. 

Source: News agencies