Qatar pressured Barclays bosses to mask PM’s holdings, UK court told

Former prime minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2019
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Qatar pressured Barclays bosses to mask PM’s holdings, UK court told

  • Prosecutors for the Serious Fraud Office present internal documents to UK court in bank funding case
  • Sheikh Hamad wanted to remain ‘under the radar,’ emails suggest

LONDON: Qatari officials put pressure on Barclays officials to mask the former prime minister of the Gulf state’s planned holding in the bank, a London court heard on Monday.

A high-profile legal case in London centers on allegations that four former executives from Barclays conspired to commit fraud by false representations when Barclays raised more than £11 billion ($14 billion) from investors in 2008.

Prosecutors allege the bankers hid from public documents around £322 million in secret fees paid to the Qatari investors as they fought to meet their tough demands.

As part of the ongoing case, prosecutors for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office on Monday presented internal emails and phone calls to the jury, The Guardian reported.

The documents detailed discussions on how Barclays might disclose Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani’s planned stake in the bank via Challenger, his British Virgin Islands (BVI)-based investment vehicle.

In a phone call played to the jury Richard Boath, the bank’s former European financial institutions boss, recalled how Sheikh Hamad told the bank’s executives that “he’d like his family to have some shares in Barclays.”

In one email, Boath said he was told that Sheikh Hamad “wants to have a very low profile” and “would prefer that HE’s BVI-based investment vehicle be our fifth investor and sign its own subscription agreement,” The Guardian reported.

In the email exchange with the Qataris’ head of legal, Ahmad Al-Sayad, Boath noted that “we would be required to disclose the identity of this vehicle,” the court heard. Al-Sayad responded that Barclays “should find a way to finesse this in order to keep HE under the radar.”
The four ex-Barclays employees have all denied the charges against them in the trail, which is expected to last up to six months.

Prosecutors have not accused Qatar or officials from that country of wrongdoing.


Head of Saudi Arabia’s SRC: ‘Ask banks for a mortgage, and we will refinance it’

Updated 25 April 2019
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Head of Saudi Arabia’s SRC: ‘Ask banks for a mortgage, and we will refinance it’

  • SRC CEO Fabrice Susini: One of our key objectives is to ensure that the banks are extending loans to more and more people
  • Extending home-ownership is one of the cornerstones of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil production

RIYADH: The head of the state-owned Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) has made an unprecedented offer to the Kingdom’s home-seekers to underwrite future mortgages.
Speaking at the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh, Fabrice Susini, SRC CEO, told the audience: “Ask them (the banks) for a mortgage, and we will refinance it.”
Although Susini later clarified his remarks to show that he still expected normal standards of mortgage applications to be met, the on-stage show of bravado illustrates SRC’s commitment to facilitate home-ownership in the Kingdom.
“Obviously if you have no revenue, no income, poor credit history, that will not apply. Now if you have a job, it is different. We have people in senior positions at big foreign banks that could not get a mortgage,” he explained.
He said that Saudi banks have traditionally assessed mortgages on the basis of “flow stability” of earnings. Government employees, or those of big corporations like Saudi Aramco and SABIC, found it easy to get mortgages “because you were there for life.”
“One of our key objectives is to ensure that the banks are extending loans to more and more people. The government is pushing for entrepreneurship, private development, private jobs. If you work in the private sector and cannot get a mortgage the next thing you will do is go to the government for a job,” Susini said.
Extending home-ownership is one of the cornerstones of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil production. Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest rates of mortgage penetration of any G20 country — in single digit percentages, compared with others at up to 50 percent.