One of four former top brass at Barclays charged with criminal offences stemming from an emergency 2008 cash call is no longer the subject of a parallel regulatory probe by the UK’s financial watchdog.
Richard Boath, Barclays’ former European head of its financial institutions group, was informed by the Financial Conduct Authority this summer that it had dropped its regulatory inquiry into him, according to people familiar with the situation.
The FCA’s decision was relayed just as Mr Boath returned from his first appearance in July at Westminster magistrates' court to face a fraud charge filed by the Serious Fraud Office. He appeared in the dock alongside John Varley, Barclays’ former chief executive, Roger Jenkins, the bank’s head of the Middle East in 2008, and Tom Kalaris, former head of wealth management.
The FCA’s decision on Mr Boath raises questions about the extent of co-operation between the two authorities. Investigations with criminal and regulatory limbs have proliferated in years since the financial crisis, and various tensions have cropped up.
The SFO charged four people, including Mr Boath, plus the bank with fraud offences in June over two 2008 fundraisings, when Barclays turned to Middle Eastern investors for a total of £11.8bn to stay out of UK government control. They are the first criminal charges to be filed against the chief executive of a big bank for actions taken during the financial crisis.
The defendants have not yet had an opportunity to enter formal pleas to the criminal charges but have indicated they will plead not guilty and a trial is expected in 2019.
The FCA has its own parallel investigation, which is scrutinising the bank, Mr Varley, Mr Jenkins and Chris Lucas, Barclays’ former chief financial officer. The FCA and SFO inquiries turn on secret fees and side deals pledged to Qatar by the bank. The FCA, even though it reopened its file earlier this year, has recently agreed to put its investigation on hold until the conclusion of the criminal case.
While the FCA decided it would take no action against Mr Boath, it said it could re-examine its decision if he is convicted of the fraud charge. Typically, the FCA uses the fact of a criminal conviction to ban people from holding regulated positions in the City of London.
Mr Boath also has an employment claim outstanding against Barclays. He alleges he was sacked after Barclays found out what he had told the SFO in interviews; something the bank denies. A hearing to determine whether his tribunal should be heard in private has been postponed until December.
The bank will also seek a stay in a $1bn civil lawsuit over its arrangements with Qatar during the 2008 fundraising that it faces from PCP Capital Partners, the firm founded by the financier Amanda Staveley. The move relates to difficulties in dealing with potential witness evidence in the civil trial, scheduled for January, which could prejudice the later criminal trial. The bank contests PCP’s claim.
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