A former board director at Barclays told London’s High Court he did not see a £280m side agreement which the UK bank struck with Qatar at the height of the 2008 financial crisis — until he was shown it by fraud detectives.
Richard Broadbent, who was Barclays’ senior non-executive director at the time, was testifying on Monday at a £1.5bn High Court trial in which the lender is being sued for alleged deceit by Amanda Staveley’s PCP. Barclays denies the claim.
PCP, which led a parallel fundraising by Abu Dhabi in the October 2008 cash call, alleges that Barclays and Qatar struck two secret side deals — known as advisory services agreements — in the June and October 2008 cash calls, which helped the bank avoid a UK government bailout.
Sir Richard told the court he had been “upset” that he had not seen the October 2008 ASA — in which Barclays paid £280m in fees to Qatar — until being shown it by the Serious Fraud Office in 2014 as part of its investigation into the Qatari fundraising.
James Collins QC, barrister for PCP, asked Sir Richard: “You didn’t know that the October advisory services agreement existed before it was shown to you by the Serious Fraud Office?” Sir Richard replied: “That is correct.”
Sir Richard, who is a former chairman of Tesco, said: “It would have been preferable if there had been a bit more transparency around the sums attached to this agreement,” adding that the board was not given enough opportunity to “interrogate the commercial judgment being made”.
The SFO brought fraud charges against Barclays over the 2008 fundraising but they were dismissed by a judge in 2018. Sir Richard left the bank in 2011.
Sir Richard told the court that the second side agreement with Qatar appeared to have been referred to in board minutes, but he had not picked up on it at the time. “There appeared to be some reference to a broader arrangement,” he said.
Sir Richard also said he was not aware of details of a £42m fee payable under the first ASA struck with Qatar in June 2008. “This does not strike me as unusual, since this level of detail was not required for the board, ” he said.
The case continues.
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