LONDON: Four former senior executives of Barclays, the British banking group, will stand trial for conspiring to commit fraud over the 2008 fundraising that brought in Qatar institutions as shareholders, a hearing in London decided on Monday.
A judge at Southwark Crown Court in the UK capital set a date in January 2019 for the trial, which will be the first time any British bank executives have been held responsible for alleged crimes committed during the global financial crisis. The trial is expected to last 16 weeks.
Last month, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the British investigating body responsible for prosecuting large-scale financial crimes, said that it was accusing the men, and the Barclays holding company, for conspiracy to commit fraud.
Former Barclays Chief Executive Officer John Varley, Roger Jenkins, former head of Middle East business, Thomas Kalaris, former head of wealth and investment management, and Richard Boath, former head of European financial institutions were charged with fraud conspiracy for their part in fundraisings that brought in a total £12 billion ($15.7 billion) from Qatari and other financial institutions.
Qatar put up most of the cash injections in 2008 at £6.3 billion, and is still a big holder of the group’s shares, with 6 percent of the total.
Varley and Jenkins, and the Barclays holding company, were also charged with providing unlawful financial assistance to Qatari institutions. The bank holding company paid Qatari investors £322 million in fees and provided a $3 billion loan facility at the same time.
Barclays wanted the cash to save it from having to take money from the British government, which would have involved a loss of independence and controls over its ability to pay big bonuses to its executives.
At an earlier hearing, the four men indicated that they would be pleading not guilty to the charges. Barclays said it was reserving judgment on how to plead in the case.
There has been speculation that the SFO might also charge the operating company, Barclays Bank, with charges relating to the events in 2008.
There have been no charges against the two Qatari institutions which bought the Barclays shares: The sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding and Challenger Universal, a special-purpose vehicle set up to hold investments on behalf of Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, then-prime minister of Qatar and his family.