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

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.


Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund to raise authorized capital five-fold up to $62.15 billion

Updated 12 November 2019

Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund to raise authorized capital five-fold up to $62.15 billion

  • Egypt’s parliament passed a law allotting 5 billion Egyptian pounds of start-up capital for the fund last year
  • Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi: Egypt could dramatically expand the size of its new sovereign wealth fund to ‘more than several trillion pounds’

CAIRO: Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund is expected to increase its authorized capital to up to a trillion Egyptian pounds ($62.15 billion) from 200 billion pounds within three years, depending on investors’ appetite, the fund’s executive director said.
Last year, Egypt’s parliament passed a law allotting 5 billion Egyptian pounds of start-up capital for the fund, called the Egypt Fund, with 1 billion pounds to be transferred immediately from the treasury.
The law also allows the president, who picks the board of directors, to transfer the ownership of any unused state assists to the fund or to any of the fund’s assists or companies.
“We expect to increase our licensed capital within three years to a trillion pounds or less ... it all depends on the investors’ response and investment appetite,” said Ayman Soliman, the fund’s chief executive.
“The sectors we will work in include industry, traditional and renewable energy, tourism and archaeology,” Soliman said.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said last month that Egypt could dramatically expand the size of its new sovereign wealth fund to “more than several trillion pounds,” and that it “aims to contribute to sustainable economic development through management of its funds and assets.”
The fund plans to buy a stake of about 30 percent in power plants built by Siemens, Soliman said, adding that six international investors have expressed interest.
“So far, six companies submitted offers to the Electricity Holding company to buy shares in the Siemens power plant,” Soliman said.
The plants, billed at the time as the world’s biggest, were built by Siemens in a €6 billion ($6.61 billion) deal signed in 2015. El-Sisi inaugurated them last year.
In May, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said that the government is considering selling the power plants to private investors, but talks were still at an early stage.