Barclays, former execs to face 2019 trial in Qatar fundraising case

Last month, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said that it was accusing the men, and the Barclays holding company, of conspiracy to commit fraud. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2017

Barclays, former execs to face 2019 trial in Qatar fundraising case

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.


HSBC France to leave its Champs Elysees headquarters

Updated 2 min 10 sec ago

HSBC France to leave its Champs Elysees headquarters

  • HSBC France has a project of moving its headquarters by 2020 to 38 av Kleber
  • The building would be fit for 1,200 employees working mostly in corporate and investment banking and wealth management

PARIS/LONDON: HSBC France said on Wednesday its teams will leave a prestigious headquarters on Paris' Champs Elysees avenue by 2020 in an emblematic move ahead of the planned sale of its retail business in the country.
The exit and planned sale, following a strategic review of the group's French retail activities, are part of a broader cost-cutting effort under interim Chief Executive Noel Quinn.
"HSBC France has a project of moving its headquarters by 2020 to 38 av Kleber, 500 meters away from its actual headquarters that was sold in 2010," the bank said in a statement.
The building would be fit for 1,200 employees working mostly in corporate and investment banking and wealth management.
Another 500 employees will be moved to HSBC's hub in La Defense business district which now houses 4,000 of the bank's employees and to branches close to the Champs Elysees building.
HSBC France sold its headquarters at 103 avenue Champs Elysees, and a building in front of it at 15 rue Vernet, to Qatari investors and has rented them since then.
The move is necessitated because the owner wants to regain control of the buildings and also because HSBC needs to save money, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Office rents in Paris are rising to levels not seen since at least 2003, according to Immostat data, as vacancy rates are at record lows.
HSBC inherited the historic headquarters when it bought the French retail operations of Crédit Commercial de France (CCF) in 2000.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the building was a hotel where World War One spy and exotic dancer Mata Hari was arrested.
HSBC Holdings has hired U.S. investment bank Lazard Ltd to sell its French retail business, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
Quinn is expected to unveil the first details of his strategic overhaul of the bank when it reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 28.
Quinn is auditioning for the full-time CEO job and insiders said he is under pressure to take decisive action after Chairman Mark Tucker indicated his predecessor John Flint had not moved quickly enough to turn around the lender's performance.