John Varley, former chief executive of Barclays, was accused in the High Court on Thursday of giving “not true” evidence to the financial regulator about 2008 capital raisings involving Qatar.
Mr Varley, who was acquitted of fraud charges last year over the fundraising, began testifying as the bank started its defence in a £1.5bn civil lawsuit brought against it by financier Amanda Staveley’s investment firm, PCP. The bank denies wrongdoing.
PCP is suing Barclays for alleged deceit over the terms of the investment in two cash calls by Qatar in 2008. Ms Staveley, who was leading a parallel investment by Abu Dhabi, has said she never would have invested if she had known Qatar was receiving different terms. Qatar struck two advisory side agreements (ASAs), worth £322m, with Barclays.
Mr Varley was cross examined on Thursday over previous evidence he had given to the Financial Conduct Authority in 2012, on links between the two advisory agreements and Qatar’s decision to pump £4bn into Barclays via two emergency fundraisings that ultimately saved the lender from a state bailout.
Joe Smouha QC, barrister for PCP, put to Mr Varley that he had given evidence that was “not true” when he told the regulator in interviews that there was “no linkage” between the ASAs and the capital raising.
Mr Smouha put to him that this was “completely different” to his evidence to the High Court, where Mr Varley has testified that the advisory agreements were “not legally connected” to the cash calls but were “commercially connected” and negotiated “concurrently.”
Mr Varley insisted his evidence in both instances was true and said the two ASAs were “free standing agreements” to win new business in the Middle East with “no inter conditionality” to the capital raising.
Mr Varley has never before testified in a public court about Barclays’ 2008 fundraising. He told the High Court on Thursday that Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, the then prime minister of Qatar, had sought reassurances from Gordon Brown, then UK prime minister, in 2008 that Qatar's existing shareholding in Barclays would not be diluted if the UK Treasury took a stake in the bank. He also testified that Amanda Staveley’s PCP has overstated its role in the fundraising.
Mr Varley added that the departure of Roger Jenkins, former chairman of Barclays’ Middle Eastern business, in 2009 “damaged the capacity of the bank to exploit the ASAs” because Mr Jenkins had “a unique and close relationship with Sheikh Hamad.”
The case continues.
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