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Ex-Barclays bosses charged with £322m fraud by SFO | Business News

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Four former Barclays Bank senior executives have been accused of disguising and hiding a £322m payment to Qatari investors during the 2008 financial crisis.

John Varley, ex-group chief executive at the bank, and Roger Jenkins, a former executive chairman of investment banking and investment management at Barclays Capital, are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, in a case brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

The other executives charged include Thomas Kalaris, former chief executive of Barclays wealth management, and Richard Boath, former Barclays Capital head of European Financial Institutions Group.

The case, which opened at Southwark Crown Court in London on Wednesday, relates to the bank’s quest 11 years ago to find financial alternatives to a UK government bailout during the banking meltdown brought about by the 2008 global crisis.

John Varley is pictured outside Southwark Crown Court
Image:
Barclays’ ex-group CEO John Varley pictured outside Southwark Crown Court

Opening for the prosecution, Edward Brown QC told the jury that by the summer of 2008, Barclays and other banks were “under sometimes extreme pressure to raise further capital – that is to say, to raise further investment in the bank itself to secure its financial position”.

He said: “Those at the top of Barclays were very anxious to avoid accepting government money, thereby placing itself under greater government control and scrutiny.

“It is no exaggeration to say that Barclays’ future as an independent bank was in jeopardy in September and October of 2008.”

The jury heard that the £322m sum was paid by the bank in fees after “essential” investments of approximately £1.9bn and £2.05bn were made – through the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Qatar Holding – to Barclays “to shore up their capital base”.

Mr Brown said: “In this case, in addition to the amounts which Barclays revealed that it was paying to the investors in the public-facing documents, additional commission fees for investing were paid to the Qataris … that were not paid to other investors and were not revealed.

“It is the hiding of these additional commission fees which lies at the heart of this case and the conspiracies alleged against the defendants, disguising and hiding extra fees to the tune, ultimately, of a total of nearly a third of a billion pounds, £322m.”

Varley, 62, of west London; Jenkins, 63, of California; Boath, 60, of Henley-on-Thames, and Kalaris, 63, of south west London, are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation in relation to Barclays’ June 2008 capital raising.

Varley and Jenkins are charged with a second count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation in relation to Barclays’ October 2008 capital raising.

The four men deny the charges against them.

The case marks the first time bankers in the UK have been prosecuted in relation to the 2008 financial crisis.

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