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Barclays probeis reopened

International

London - The UK Financial Conduct Authority has re-opened its investigation into Barclays' 2008 emergency fundraising from Qatar despite issuing a fine in the case four years ago, as charging decisions from a parallel criminal case are set to be announced imminently, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The FCA called in a number of people for interviews in the case in recent weeks, said the person who asked not to identified because the process is private. The UK regulator already fined Barclays 50 million pounds ($62 million) over the fundraising in 2013. The bank said it will contest the penalty but the challenge was put on hold pending the outcome of criminal probe by the UK Serious Fraud Office.

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A Barclays branch in London. Picture: Nicola Mawson

The investigations target two "advisory services agreements" worth 322 million pounds that Barclays committed to pay the Qatar Investment Authority during the 2008 financial crisis. The pacts came around the same time the sovereign wealth fund joined a two-stage 12 billion-pound fundraising to help the bank avoid a state bailout, raising questions about the true purpose of the services agreements.

Spokesmen for the FCA and Barclays declined to comment. The FCA’s decision to re-open its case was first reported by the Financial Times on Thursday.

Read also: SA examines Barclays Africa over apartheid-era bailout

The FCA’s decision to re-open its case comes after Barclays turned over about 100 000 new documents to the SFO last year after dropping a claim the material was covered by attorney-client privilege, the person said. If the FCA wanted to alter its previous penalty report-- known as a warning notice-- substantially, or issue a new one, it would have to get sign-off from the Regulatory Decisions Committee. The RDC is an independent internal panel that must approve enforcement action before its issued.

The SFO plans to announce any charges in the coming weeks. At least eight former senior Barclays individuals have been interviewed under caution by the prosecutor in the probe including former Chief Executive Officers John Varley and Bob Diamond. Interviews under caution are generally conducted with possible suspects and anything said can be used in court.

A number of those individuals have sent final pleas to the SFO in recent weeks outlining why they shouldn’t face charges, people with knowledge of the case told Bloomberg last week. The SFO told a London court last year that it would decide on charges by the end of March, and the prosecutor is on track to make an announcement around then, three of the people said.

The FCA also issued so-called preliminary investigation reports to a number of ex-Barclays executives a few years ago, people with knowledge of the case said previously. PIRs are the first stage of the enforcement process, outlining the regulator’s findings for the individual to respond to. They are usually followed by a formal notice of enforcement action, which often includes a fine.

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