Former Barclays top brass face fraud trial over Qatari funding

Several former senior executives standing trial over alleged misconduct concerning 2008 cash injections.

    Barclays secured roughly $15.4bn in emergency funding during the global financial crisis of 2008, most of which came from Gulf investors [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]
    Barclays secured roughly $15.4bn in emergency funding during the global financial crisis of 2008, most of which came from Gulf investors [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

    The first jury trial of a former CEO of a major British bank for actions taken during the 2008 financial crisis began in London on Monday.

    Former Barclays CEO John Varley and three other former executives face criminal charges in connection with a 2008 rescue package that allowed the bank to avoid a state bailout.

    Barclays secured roughly 12 billion pounds ($15.4bn) in emergency funding primarily from Gulf investors during the global financial crisis of 2008. The cash injections included 6.1 billion pounds ($7.8bn) from Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, and Challenger, an investment vehicle of former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani.

    The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which prosecutes white collar crimes, alleges that the bankers used side deals to induce the Qataris to invest in Barclays.

    In 2008, Barclays' UK rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds were forced to go cap in hand to the British government to stay afloat.

    Varley, along with former senior Barclay’s executives Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. Varley and Jenkins also face a separate charge of unlawful financial assistance. All four have pleaded not guilty.

    Lawyers for Boath and Kalaris declined to comment on the case, Reuters news agency reported on Monday, while legal representatives for the other defendants did not respond to requests for comment.

    Qatar, a major investor in Britain, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

    The trial is expected to last for up to four months and begin with lengthy legal procedural arguments before prosecutors open their case.

    Last year, a UK court dismissed a separate case brought by the SFO against Barclays bank in connection with the Qatari fundraising rounds. The SFO later lost an appeal to reinstate the charges.

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    SOURCE: News agencies