Former Barclays CEO suggested side deal to feed Qatar’ extra cash, London court hears

Former Barclays CEO suggested side deal to feed Qatar’ extra cash, London court hears
The court heard that former Barclays CEO John Varley, who is not on trial, suggested the bank could use a side deal to satisfy Qatar's extra cash demand. (AFP/File photo)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Former Barclays CEO suggested side deal to feed Qatar’ extra cash, London court hears

Former Barclays CEO suggested side deal to feed Qatar’ extra cash, London court hears
  • Thomas Kalaris, one of three former bankers on trial for fraud, described in court a meeting with a senior Qatari official in June, 2008
  • Prosecutors say the executives did not properly disclosing £322 million paid to Qatar during the financial crisis

LONDON: Former Barclays chief executive John Varley first suggested the bank could use a side deal to satisfy Qatar’s demands for extra cash in return for rescue funding for the bank during the 2008 credit crisis, a London court heard on Tuesday.
Thomas Kalaris, one of three former top Barclays bankers who deny fraud linked to the capital raising, on Tuesday described a meeting with a senior Qatari official on June 3, 2008, and how he subsequently took the service lift to Varley’s office on the 31st floor of the bank to discuss the Gulf state’s fee demands.
The case revolves around how Barclays avoided the fate of Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland and averted a state bailout with an £11 billion pound ($14.3 billion) fundraising in June and October 2008.
But the Gulf state, which became the largest single investor in Barclays, first asked for a fee of 3.75 percent in return for its investment — substantially above the 1.5 percent the bank was offering other investors, the jury has heard.
“His (Varley’s) immediate reaction was that he would be prepared to offer value of 3.5 percent ...,” Kalaris told the jury at the Old Bailey criminal court, as he began his testimony.
“He said it should be done via a side agreement,” he said, adding this was “quite common” in banking and “absolutely not” dishonest.
Varley was acquitted of fraud charges last year and is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors for the UK Serious Fraud Office allege the three former executives lied to the market and other investors by not properly disclosing £322 million paid to Qatar, disguising them as “bogus” advisory services agreements (ASAs) in return for around four billion pounds in investments over 2008.
Kalaris, who ran the bank’s wealth division, Roger Jenkins, the former head of the bank’s Middle East business and Richard Boath, a former head of European financial institutions, deny conspiring to commit fraud and fraud by false representation.
The men have said the ASAs were designed to be genuine side deals to secure lucrative business for Barclays in the Middle East — a region the bank was eager to exploit — and were approved by lawyers and cleared by the board.
Kalaris, 64, agreed his role in the June 2008 capital raising could be described as a “quarterback” and involved, in part, ensuring decision makers “understood what was going on.”
“Did you think for a moment that Mr.Varley was instructing that there should be some form of dishonest or hidden nature to the balancing payment, whatever that amount would need to be?” Kalaris’s lawyer, Ian Winter, asked.
“Never,” Kalaris responded.
The trial continues.


Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
Updated 11 May 2021

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
  • Turkey’s Karadeniz supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Karadeniz, which supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges, told Beirut to halt action by the Lebanese prosecutor to seize its vessels and said it must draw up a plan to settle arrears to avoid a cut in supplies, a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson for Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz that operates floating power plants, was speaking on Tuesday after Lebanon’s Finance Ministry cited a lawmaker saying the country had been threatened with a cut to its supplies.
A Lebanese prosecutor issued a decision last week to seize the barges and fine the firm after TV channel Al-Jadeed reported corruption allegations tied to the power contract. The firm denies the charges and says it has not been paid for 18 months.


Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
Updated 11 May 2021

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
  • Revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551million

RIYADH: Suez Canal revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551 million compared to a year earlier, Asharq Business reported, citing Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie.
Rabie also discussed plans to expand and deepen the southern sector of the canal in which the container ship Ever Given was stuck in March, creating chaos across the global supply chain.
That incident which brought a large proportion of seaborne trade to a near halt for a week, highlighted the need to ensure the  smooth operation of the key trade artery.
Rabie also revealed plans for dredging works for the maintenance of the navigational channel of the canal.
A plan is being implemented to restructure the authority’s companies, he said.
This year witnessed a slight increase in the number of ships passing through the waterway to 1,840 in April 2021 from 1,731 in April 2020, Al Arabiya reported.


Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
Updated 11 May 2021

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
  • The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent of the total labor force in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The new data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reflects the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter, representing a decrease of 2.3 percent, Al Arabiya reported.
The labor force in urban areas reached 13,034 million, with 16,250 million living in rural areas.
Gehan Saleh, economic affairs adviser to Egypt’s prime minister said in April that the second stage of the country’s economic reform program would be launched soon.
She said the plan aims to improve the quality of life of citizens and tackle unemployment through job-creating investments.


Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
Updated 11 May 2021

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
  • It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods

DUBAI: Indian customs have foiled an attempt to post gold from Dubai disguised in containers of the popular Tang drink.

After sieving the contents of the drink mix, Chennai customs officials discovered it had been mixed with gold granules, according to a statement from the Commissioner of Customs at Chennai International Airport.
Officials probing the racket found that the address of the receiver had been misused.
It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods.
Earlier this year officials at Chennai airport also nabbed two men trying to smuggle gold through the airport underneath their wigs.
The hapless pair were nabbed after their unusual hairstyles caught the attention of officials.

They were found to be carrying two gold paste packets weighing almost 700 g


UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal

UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal
Updated 11 May 2021

UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal

UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal
  • The move signals Helios Towers’ entry to the Middle East market as a major tower infrastructure provider

DUBAI: British telecommunications company Helios Towers has signed a deal with Omantel to acquire 2,890 sites for $575 million from the sultanate’s largest mobile network operator.
The move signals Helios Towers’ entry to the Middle East market as a major tower infrastructure provider.
The deal is expected to bring in a $59 million bump in revenues in the first full year of operations.
It also involves a $35 million plan to add 300 new build-to-suit sites over the next seven years.
“We view Oman as a very attractive and supportive market for foreign investments, with strong growth and exciting future prospects,” the UK-based company’s chief Kash Pandya said in a statement.
He said the acquisition strengthens its business through “further hard-currency revenues and diversification” in what the CEO described as the fastest growing markets in the region.
“We look forward to working with Omantel and the other MNOs over the coming years to further develop next generation mobile infrastructure solutions and services in Oman,” he added.
The partnership reflects Oman’s FDI aspirations, Omantel CEO Tala Said Al-Mamari said, adding it will create jobs and opportunities in the country.
“This move also allows the monetization of our towers at attractive valuation levels, de-lever our balance sheet, and will accelerate network development in next generation advanced technologies,” he noted.
He said it would allow Omantel’s management to focus on innovation and product development while outsourcing infrastructure management to an independent firm.
The transaction will close by the end of 2021, and the long-term partnership will last for an initial period of 15 years.