John Varley, Barclays chief executive from 2004 to 2011
The case against former Barclays chief John Varley and three other executives is set to get under way at Southwark Crown Court © FT montage / Dreamstime / AFP

More than a decade after Barclays turned to Middle Eastern investors for rescue funds during the financial crisis, a jury in London will on Wednesday begin hearing the case against the bank’s former chief executive and three senior colleagues, who stand accused of defrauding the market.

In what is the first jury trial in the world of a leading bank’s boss over actions taken during the 2008 crisis, a jury at Southwark Crown Court will hear the opening arguments of the Serious Fraud Office against John Varley, Barclays’ CEO until 2011, and three other defendants.

Barclays itself had been charged with unlawful financial assistance by providing Qatar a $3bn loan just as the second fundraising of 2008 was closing. But the bank’s corporate charges were scrubbed in a blow to the SFO, which has spent specially ringfenced taxpayer money investigating the case.

The four men face criminal charges of fraud by false representation brought by the SFO. It alleges that during two capital calls to raise a total of £11.8bn in 2008, side deals were struck with Qatar that were not properly disclosed to other investors or to the market, and which were a way of funnelling secret fees to the Qataris.

The four deny the charges, which carry a maximum 10-year sentence, and the trial is scheduled to last for as long as six months.

It has taken more than six years of investigation by the SFO to get to this point. Here are the key players among the accused, the lawyers and the witnesses:

John Varley

Former Barclays chief executive

John Varley, former chief executive officer of Barclays Plc, arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Jan.  22, 2019.  The trial starting this week against Varley and three other former top executives at the bank is the first heard by a U.K. jury against a top banker in connection with the financial crisis. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
© Bloomberg

Mr Varley, 62, spent most of his career at Barclays, which he joined in 1982 after training as a lawyer. An archetypal English gent, he married into the bank as his ex-wife Carolyn is the daughter of Sir Richard Thorn Pease — a member of an old Quaker banking family that became part of Barclays in 1902. He worked his way up to become chief executive in 2004 and left in early 2011. He faces two counts of fraud by misrepresentation.

Roger Jenkins

Former head of Barclays investment bank’s Middle East business

14/01/2019 Southwark Crown Court, London Barclays fraud case. Picture shows Roger Jenkins
Roger Jenkins, former executive chairman of the Middle East at Barclays' investment bank, said: "You can’t have the prime minister of Qatar as an advisor to Barclays Bank...You just can’t have it,” © Charlie Bibby/FT

Mr Jenkins, 63, was a dealmaker who negotiated the two capital calls in 2008 and who had contacts in the Middle East as the investment bank’s regional executive chairman. As a student sprinter, Mr Jenkins represented Scotland and Great Britain and he is now a resident of Malibu in California. He faces two counts over the June 2008 fundraising, when the bank raised £4.5bn, and also over a second cash call in October of that year, which raised a further £7.3bn from investors from Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

Tom Kalaris

Former head of Barclays’ wealth and investment management unit

Tom Kalaris Barclays Fraud Case Westminster Magistrates court 3/6/17
Tom Kalaris, the former head of Barclays' wealth division © Anna Gordon/FT

American-born Mr Kalaris, 63, headed the bank’s wealth division and was the trusted lieutenant of Bob Diamond, Mr Varley’s eventual successor, at the time of the fundraisings. Mr Kalaris, a bond trader by training, stands accused of one count of fraud in relation to the June fundraising, when the bank turned to overseas investors, including from Qatar. Mr Kalaris, who left Barclays in 2013, is represented in court by Ian Winter QC.

Richard Boath

Former European head of Barclays investment bank’s financial institutions group

14/01/2019 Southwark Crown Court, London Barclays fraud case. Picture shows Richard Boath.
Richard Boath, former European head of the investment bank’s financial institutions group at Barclays, said: “There’s obviously the jeopardy that we’re rumbled and people say: well, that was bullshit, you know, this is just a fee in the backdoor,” © Charlie Bibby/FT

Mr Boath, 60, the former European head of the investment bank’s financial institutions group, held the most junior role of the defendants at the time of the two fundraisings. Like Mr Kalaris, he faces only one count in relation to the June capital call, when the bank’s prospectus said it would pay £107m costs and expenses but pledged there were no other fees or commissions, according to the indictment. Mr Boath, who left the bank in 2016, has instructed Bill Boyce QC as his barrister.

Chris Lucas

Former Barclays chief financial officer

Chris Lucas, Barclays

The former chief financial officer of Barclays, Mr Lucas is named as a co-conspirator of the defendants on the SFO’s indictment in relation to the arrangements with the Qataris around both capital raisings. Mr Lucas, who is suffering from ill health, has not been charged by the SFO.

Mr Justice Jay

Presiding judge in the case

This is one of the most high-profile trials that Robert Jay has presided over since becoming a judge in 2013. He rose to prominence as a barrister when he was counsel to the Leveson inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. Sir Robert is known for his expansive vocabulary — “condign”, “proleptic” and “nugatory” are all everyday words for him.

Nicholas Purnell

QC representing John Varley

Mr Varley’s barrister, Mr Purnell, is one of the country’s top silks — or Queen’s Counsels — with more than four decades of experience. Described by legal guide Chambers & Partners as “massively experienced and a force to be reckoned with” he has also won a number of cases against the SFO. He also defended Jeffrey Archer in his 2001 perjury trial.

John Kelsey-Fry

QC representing Roger Jenkins

Mr Kelsey-Fry has been described by legal guides as “highly charismatic and persuasive in front of juries”. His high-profile clients have included Harry Redknapp, the former Spurs manager, who was cleared by a jury of tax evasion and Chris Huhne, the former Liberal Democrat minister who was jailed in 2013.

Ed Brown

Lead prosecutor

One of the most senior silks in London, Mr Brown is the lead prosecutor on the case for the SFO. An expert on joint enterprise — the doctrine that allows more than one person to be charged with the same crime and is often applied in gang situations or where it is unclear who dealt a fatal blow — Mr Brown has successfully prosecuted gang members and child murderers.

Marcus Agius

Former Barclays chairman; witness for the prosecution

Serco Group Launches Bike Rental...Marcus Agius, chairman of Barclays Bank Plc, pauses during a press conference to launch the new London Cycle Hire scheme in London, U.K., on Friday, July 30, 2010. Mayor Boris Johnson is spending 140 million pounds ($218 million) to encourage more Londoners to get on two wheels with a cycle-hire program that sprinkles the capital with as many as 5,000 bikes starting today. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
© Bloomberg

The chairman of Barclays in 2008, Mr Agius is a witness for the SFO. Mr Agius, 72, spent almost 30 years at investment bank Lazard, becoming chairman of its London branch before he took over as chairman of Barclays in 2007. He left in 2012. A keen gardener, he is a trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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