The jury in the trial of three former senior Barclays bankers have retired to consider their verdicts after one of the most high-profile criminal trials ever brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
Lord Justice Popplewell, the trial judge who finished summing up the evidence on Wednesday, sent the jury at London’s Old Bailey out following a five-month trial.
It is the first criminal trial in the UK to examine steps senior bankers took during the financial crisis and the prosecution centres around whether the three bankers lied to the stock market in official documents over two cash calls in 2008. The bank tapped foreign investors from Qatar and beyond for £11.2bn across two emergency fundraisings that year to avoid a UK government bailout.
The jury will decide the fate of three defendants, including Roger Jenkins, the former head of Barclays’ Middle Eastern division who earned a £25m bonus for arranging Qatari investment in the two cash calls in June and October 2008. Mr Jenkins denies four charges against him in relation to the fundraisings.
The jury is also considering two counts against Tom Kalaris, who was the American head of the bank’s wealth unit in 2008, and Richard Boath, the investment banking unit’s former European co-head of financial institutions. These allegations relate to the June 2008 fundraising. All three men deny all charges against them. The fraud charges carry with them a 10-year maximum sentence.
During the trial the SFO alleged the men had funnelled secret fees of £322m to Qatar and its powerful prime minister at the time, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, in exchange for the Qatari investment across the two 2008 fundraisings.
It claimed that a so-called advisory services agreement, or ASA, signed with Qatar at the same time as the June fundraising, and extended in October, was just a “smokescreen” and a “dishonest mechanism” to pay the Qataris the commission fees they demanded for investing.
However, the defendants claim the side deals were genuine, signed off by lawyers, and designed to help expand Barclays’ Middle Eastern business and secure valuable banking business from gas-rich Qatar.
The trial has lifted the lid on the febrile atmosphere as markets roiled in 2008 and Barclays did everything possible to avoid government control. The trial continues.
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