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London - Barclays and four former executives were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud during the bank’s 2008 capital raising from Qatar as it sought to avoid a bailout amid one of the most turbulent periods in financial history.

The Serious Fraud Office said Tuesday former Chief Executive Officer John Varley, former chairman of investment banking for the Middle East Roger Jenkins, ex-wealth chief Thomas Kalaris, and Richard Boath, the former European head of the bank’s financial institutions group, face charges along with Barclays.

The four men are the most senior UK banking executives charged since the financial crisis, which sent banks across the globe scrambling to raise funds to cover billions in losses. The case relates to the nature of 322 million pounds ($408 million) in fees Barclays paid to the Qatar Investment Authority and a $3 billion loan facility it made available to the nation as part of side deals to the 12 billion-pound fundraising from Qatari and other investors.

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Five-Year Probe

The five-year investigation is one of a number of lingering probes over the bank’s behaviour dating back nearly a decade. Since the financial crisis, Barclays has faced issues ranging from the rigging of key benchmark rates to more recent scandals related to how executives dealt with whistle-blowers.

The London-based bank said it is “considering its position” in relation to the allegations. Barclays said that one of its main subsidiaries may face additional charges in the case.

Varley and Jenkins face three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and unlawful financial assistance. Boath and Kalaris each face one fraud count. A London court hearing is scheduled for July 3.

The charges relate to Barclays’s capital arrangements with Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of the emirate’s QIA sovereign wealth fund, and Challenger Universal, an investment vehicle of the country’s then prime minister.

The SFO, which Prime Minister Theresa May has threatened to fold into another crime agency, delayed the charging decision at least twice since missing a promised March deadline.

In addition to the SFO, the Qatar deals are being reviewed by the Financial Conduct Authority, which re-opened its probe earlier this year after more documents came to light. The regulator had previously fined the bank 50 million pounds in relation to how it disclosed the fees paid to the Qataris. The FCA said that it was working closely with the SFO.

Challenging Circumstances

 A lawyer for the 61-year-old Jenkins said his client will “vigorously defend against these charges.”

“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 subject mentioned in the accusations leveled by the SFO,” said Brad Kaufman, Jenkins’ US based lawyer at Greenberg Traurig.

A lawyer for Varley declined to comment, while a lawyer for Kalaris didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Boath said in a statement he "was not a decision-maker and had no control over what the bank did in 2008."

“The SFO’s decision to charge me is based on a false understanding of my role and the facts," Boath said. "I repeatedly raised concerns about the decisions taken by the bank with both senior management and senior lawyers and was reassured that those decisions were lawful."

Varley, 61, was appointed Barclays’s CEO in 2004 after starting his career at the bank in the 1980s. He presided over the lender during the 2008 financial crisis before handing the reigns to Bob Diamond in 2011.

Malibu Resident

Jenkins, who now lives in Malibu, worked most of his career at the lender in roles including running a structured capital markets business that developed tax arbitrage strategies for clients.

Boath, 58, worked in Barclays’s investment bank for 15 years, most recently as co-head of the lender’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business. Since his departure from the bank in 2016, he’s been working as a consultant. He sued the bank at a London employment tribunal.

Kalaris, 61, joined Barclays in 1996 after 18 years at JPMorgan Chase & Co. His roles at the British bank have included heading its American business and wealth management unit and he was appointed to Barclays’s executive committee in 2009.Several former executives were interviewed by the SFO, but didn’t face charges.

The SFO found there were reasons to investigate Chris Lucas, the bank’s group finance director, but opted not to pursue the matter because of the 56-year-old’s health issues, according to two people familiar with the probe. Lucas’ lawyer declined to comment.

While Diamond, another one-time CEO, and former senior Barclays lawyers Mark Harding, Judith Shepherd and Matthew Dobson were within the scope of the investigation, the SFO also decided not to file charges against them, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the documents aren’t public.

A spokesman for Diamond and a lawyer for Harding declined to comment, while a lawyer for Dobson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Judith Shepherd has always strongly maintained her innocence," her lawyer, Neill Blundell at Eversheds, said in a statement. She "cooperated fully with the SFO’s investigation and is delighted that the SFO, following extensive inquiries has concluded there is no case for her to answer."

Barclays is also facing a 750 million-pound lawsuit from PCP Capital Partners’ Amanda Staveley over the fundraising. Staveley oversaw a 3.5 billion-pound investment in Barclays shares on behalf of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan in October 2008.

"PCP’s civil claim mirrors the matters referred to in the SFO’s charging statement this morning," said Bree Taylor, a London lawyer for Staveley. "PCP’s case against Barclays is fixed for trial some months from now in January 2018."