A senior Barclays executive speculated that his former chief executive John Varley would have to “walk the plank” if the bank’s capital fundraising had failed in June 2008, a high-profile fraud trial heard on Monday.
The trial of four ex-Barclays executives was given details of a final round of negotiations during the financial crisis as the bank frantically tried to secure billions of pounds of fresh capital from wealthy investors including Qatar.
The Serious Fraud Office, which is prosecuting the case, has alleged that four top former Barclays bankers lied to the market about fees paid to Qatar over the course of two emergency fundraisings in 2008.
It alleges Mr Varley, then chief executive of Barclays, along with Roger Jenkins, Richard Boath and Tom Kalaris funnelled £322m to Qatar in return for its investment in Barclays via two advisory service agreements. The four men deny wrongdoing in the trial at Southwark Crown Court.
On Monday the jury was played phone calls between Mr Jenkins, the former head of Barclays’ Middle East operations, and Mr Boath, a senior investment banker, who were helping raise capital from Qatar as the negotiations reached a critical stage on June 23, 2008.
Mr Jenkins, known to colleagues as “Big Dog”, joked with Mr Boath that if the fundraising failed: “Varley then has walked the plank and I’m in charge.”
He also complained to Mr Boath about the capital raising plans which had been drawn up by the Barclays board: “That’s because they have no bankers on the board,” he said.
“They’ve got Bob [Diamond, Barclays’ former head of Barclays investment bank],” Mr Boath replied.
“That’s because they have no bankers on the board,” Mr Jenkins joked. Mr Diamond is not on trial and has not been accused of wrongdoing.
The trial was also played a call between Judith Shepherd, deputy group counsel at Barclays, and Mr Boath as the negotiations intensified that evening and Ms Shepherd pressed for details of when the Qatar fundraising would be finalised.
“Tell Big Dog to get on with it because I want to just see how big that Dog is,” she said referring to Mr Jenkins.
“I hate this deal,” Mr Boath told her. “Yes, I feel similarly,” she told him.
Mr Varley and Mr Jenkins deny two counts each of fraud by false representation over the two fundraisings in June and October 2008. Mr Kalaris, the former head of Barclays’ wealth, and Mr Boath deny one count each over the June fundraising.
The trial, which may last up to six months, continues.
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