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
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
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
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’
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.
Jenkins, who now lives in
Boath, 58, worked in Barclays’s investment bank for 15
years, most recently as co-head of the lender’s Europe, Middle East and
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
"PCP’s civil claim mirrors the matters referred to in
the SFO’s charging statement this morning," said Bree Taylor, a