25 June 2017
I was interviewed by Sharmanie Peries of the Baltimore-based Real News Network about the charging, by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, of Barclays PLC and four of its former senior executives for alleged fraud during a crisis-era capital-raising.
The charges relate to alleged kickbacks of £322 million paid by Barclays to the Qataris as well as a covert $3 billion “merry-go-round” loan made to Qatar both of which allegedly helped induce the gulf emirate’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding and Challenger Universal, a vehicle of the then Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, to inject some £5.3 billion of fresh capital into Barclays so it could avoid being part nationalised by the government of Gordon Brown.
The individuals who have been charged are Barclays’s former chief executive John Varle; the former head of Barclays Wealth in America, Tom Kalaris; the founder of Barclay’s “tax avoidance factory” otherwise known as its structured capital markets group Roger “The Dodger” Jenkins; and the former head of Barclays’s financial institutions group Richard Boath. In order these four bankers have been nicknmaed ‘The CEO’, ‘The Broker’, ‘The Musketeer’ and ‘the Whistleblower’ for reasons I explain in the video interview below.
The SFO’s decision to press criminal charges on these guys is virtually unprecedented as, with the exeception of the ‘Blue Arrow’ trial of 1992 in which some senior executives of the investment bank County NatWest were criminally tried, the UK prosecutor has shied away from charging any senior British banker with fraud — or indeed any other criminal offence.
In July 2016 four lower level Barclays bankers were jailed for criminal offences related to the rigging of Libor. These were Jay Merchant, sentenced to six-and-a-half years, Peter Johnson and Jonathan Mathew, each jailed for four years, and Alex Pabon, who received two years and nine months.