Neil Williams of Rahman Ravelli gives an overview of the charges and acquittals involved in the Barclays Qatar fundraising investigation.
The acquittal of three former Barclays executives marks the end of the UK’s first-ever trial of senior bank figures for actions that they took in the financial crisis.
After a five-month trial, Roger Jenkins, Richard Boath and Thomas Kalaris were cleared of fraud charges in relation to allegedly misleading investors and the markets over capital raising arrangements agreed with Qatar Holding LLC and Challenger Universal Ltd in June and October 2008.
In relation to the June 2008 capital raising, Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris and Richard Boath were acquitted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, contrary to s1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, and of fraud by false representation, contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. In relation to the October 2008 capital raising, Roger Jenkins was acquitted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, contrary to s1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, and of fraud by false representation, contrary to s1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
The charges were brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The SFO had alleged that £322M paid to Qatar was a fee demanded by the Gulf state in exchange for investing £4 billion in the bank as part of emergency fundraising that helped Barclays avoid a public bail-out. Such a bail-out would have placed the bank under government control.
Barclays Plc was charged in June 2017 with conspiracy to commit fraud and the provision of unlawful financial assistance. In February 2018, Barclays Bank plc was also charged with the provision of unlawful financial assistance. The charges against Barclays Plc and Barclays Bank Plc were dismissed in May 2018, after Mr Justice Jay heard arguments that the corporate entity could only be held accountable if the entire board was guilty of a conspiracy.
Five months later, the High Court rejected the SFO’s application for a voluntary bill of indictment against Barclays Plc and Barclays Bank Plc. A voluntary bill is a rarely used tool. It is the only procedure available to the Crown to resurrect a prosecution where a court has ruled it should be dismissed. In 2014, the SFO failed in a similar bid to resurrect a prosecution, this time against six people (including three solicitors and a QC) over an alleged conspiracy to defraud three local authorities in Wales and the Coal Authority.
A previous trial involving Jenkins, Boath and Kalaris ended in April 2019 when the jury was discharged after four months of court proceedings. Former Barclays chief executive John Varley was also a co-defendant in that trial but was acquitted by an appeals court last June.
While there have been some prosecutions and convictions as an indirect result of the crash of 2008, there has not yet been a corporate convicted - and nobody from the banks has been successfully prosecuted.