Barclays executives fend off fraud charge

Three senior Barclays bankers have been acquitted of fraud charges relating to emergency funding from Qatar in 2008.

In a “fresh blow to the credibility of the Serious Fraud Office [SFO]”, three senior Barclays bankers have been acquitted of fraud, says Kalyeena Makortoff in The Guardian. They were accused of channelling secret fees to Qatar in return for emergency funding in 2008. The case hinged on Barclays’ decision to pay Qatar £322m in fees. The SFO claimed that the fees were directly linked to Qatar’s decision to invest £4bn in the bank during the crisis. This supposedly gave Qatar more generous terms than other investors in the £11bn deal and also misled the wider market about Barclays’ financial health. But the executives successfully argued that the fees were for advisory services.

The case was always going to be “hard” for the SFO to win, says Philip Augar in The Times. It “had to prove the advisory agreements were a sham without taking evidence from the Qataris, the party providing the services”. But the defence team were able to use the trio’s own notes to find cases where “the advice from Qatar sometimes led to business for Barclays”.

While the executives may have been found not guilty, Barclays’ “legal troubles” stemming from 2008 “are far from over”, says Edward Robinson on Bloomberg. The spotlight now shifts to civil lawsuits and regulatory probes set aside while “criminal proceedings wound through the courts”. Chief among them is a £1.6bn lawsuit from Amanda Staveley, CEO of PCP Capital Partners, for “allegedly cheating her out of profits she claims she should have earned by bringing investors into the bank’s fundraising deal”.

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