Three former Barclays executives have been acquitted of charges of helping funnel £322m in secret fees to Qatar for rescuing the bank during the credit crisis.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had alleged the UK bank had given Qatar cash in return for the kingdom funding a package that helped it survive without government bailout in 2008. The verdict is another blow to the SFO.
Barclays’ ex-investment banking chief, Roger Jenkins, former wealth division head Thomas Kalaris, and the lender’s ex-European financial institutions boss Richard Both, were found not guilty on all charges by the jury in under six hours. The men faced up to ten years in jail.
The trio, aged between 61 and 64, all denied any wrongdoing. Qatar, a major investor in Britain and still a significant holder of the traded stock, was neither investigated nor accused of wrongdoing.
No fraud between Barclays and Qatar
Former Barclays chief executive John Varley was found not guilty of funnelling cash to Qatar in June 2019.
The verdict brings to an end a seven-and-a-half-year investigation that led to the first criminal charges in Britain against senior financiers at a major bank over credit crisis-era conduct.
A spokesman for the SFO said: “Our prosecution decisions are always based on the evidence that is available, and we are determined to bring perpetrators of serious financial crime to justice. Wherever our evidential and public interest tests are met, we will always endeavour to bring this before a court.”
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleged executives on offering lucrative terms to Qatar as well as cash during the 2008 financial crisis. Barclays had generated $11bn emergency fundraising in June and October 2008 to avoid a state bailout that was forced on its competitors, RBS, Lloyds and HBOS.
SFO again fails to land major case
The SFO argued that Qatar has effectively purchased Barclays shares in the fundraising at a heavily discounted price, which was not offered to any other investor.
The ruling is a blow to the SFO, which has a poor record of winning major proceedings and took years to launch this prosecution, has now had its case thrown out at the end of a five-month trial.
The taxpayer-funded body also failed to win a separate trial against Barclays bank over the Qatar deal, which collapsed in 2018. It also later lost a high court appeal to reinstate the charges.
Charges against former Tesco executives, accused of being masterminds behind a major accounting scandal, were also thrown out in December 2018 after a judge deemed the SFO’s case too weak to put to a jury.