After 5 years investigating the Qatari cash injection that saved Barclays from a government bailout, the SFO have charged Barclays, its ex-CEO and three other ex-senior execs with fraud. If found guilty, John Varley, the ex-CEO of Barclays, and Roger Jenkins, the £40m a year star banker, face up to 22 years in jail. Barclays face a large fine. The other two defendants, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath, face up to 10 years in jail.
It might be said the threat of the SFO being abolished by Theresa May has sprung them in to taking one of their largest actions in years. That seems a tad unfair. It seems more likely and fair that those at the top, and not just those following orders, should be accountable for their actions. This is particularly so when considering that in the Libor manipulation scandal 3 senior Barclays traders were imprisoned whilst the senior execs, so far, escaped criminal charges.
In 2008 Barclays turned to Qatari investors for emergency cash which led to a £6.1 billion fund raising. The key issues in this case are the side deals with the investors and whether these were fully disclosed. Barclays agreed to pay their Qatari investors £322 million for "helping the bank develop business in the Gulf". A few months later Barclays agreed to lend $3 billion to Qatar. It is alleged by the SFO these payments were to induce the Qataris to invest and the loan was a secret loan to allow Qatar to reinvest in Barclays.
At this stage we do not know what explanation the Defendants have to the charges. Barclays say they are considering their position. Mr Varley, the ex CEO and Mr Boath, say they will vigorously defend the claims. No word so far from Mr Jenkins or Mr Kalaris. But, irrespective of the outcome, it shows that the authorities will take action, no matter how big the opponent. That in itself is no bad thing, provided of course the SFO case succeeds, otherwise it might find itself abolished.
Senior Barclays bankers charged with fraud over credit crunch fundraising