The UK Serious Fraud Office could decide “as soon as next month” whether to charge former Barclays executives over undisclosed payments the bank made to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2008, when the Bank was trying to raise money during the credit crunch.
“In a two-year investigation the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has interviewed former chief executives Bob Diamond and John Varley, former finance director Chris Lucas, former tax advisory boss Roger Jenkins and other Barclays staff,” Reuters said Friday.
SFO head David Green said, “We are making progress with this case, and we are not going away.”
Sources told Reuters the SFO is expected to decide by late September or October whether to charge any of the men.
The SFO said in August 2012 that it had formally opened an investigation into “certain commercial arrangements between Barclays Bank and Qatar Holdings in 2008.”
In October 2012, Barclays said in a statement to the the London Stock Exchange that it had been informed by the U.S. DOJ and SEC of investigations into whether the bank’s “relationships with third parties who assist Barclays to win or retain business are compliant with the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”
During the 2008 credit crunch, Barclay’s avoided a public bailout by landing about $20 billion in private funding, “mostly from Middle East investors,” Reuters said.
As part of the deal, Barclays revealed [$190 million] in advisory fees and commission to Qatar Holdings, but Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it had failed to reveal another [$538 million] in two “advisory services agreements” with the Qatari company.
The FCA fined Barclay’s $83 million for its “reckless” non-disclosure.
By early 2011, the SEC had launched a broad investigation into banks and private-equity firms that might have violated the FCPA in their dealings with sovereign wealth funds. At least ten firms received letters from the SEC.
“During [Barclays’] Qatari fundraising, John Varley was CEO, and Diamond, one of London’s best-paid bankers, was head of the investment bank division. Diamond succeeded Varley at the end of 2010, but was ousted in July 2012 after the bank was fined for rigging Libor interest rates,” Reuters said.
Former finance director Lucas retired in 2013 because of illness, and Roger Jenkins left Barclays in early 2009, the report said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.