Barclays, Ex-CEO John Varley Charged With Fraud Over 2008 Crisis Qatar Deal

LONDON — Barclays bank and four of its former directors — including ex-CEO John Varley — have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud over a rescue deal with Qatar during the 2008 global financial crisis, regulators announced Tuesday.

It is the first time criminal charges have been filed in Britain over activities tied to the credit crunch and subsequent emergency fundraising.

Image: John Varley in 2009
John Varley SHAUN CURRY / AFP - Getty Images

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it had brought the charges against the London-based bank itself as well as Varley, 61; Roger Jenkins, also 61, who is the former executive chairman of Investment Banking and Investment Management in the Middle East and North Africa for Barclays Capital; and two former senior executives, Thomas Kalaris, 61, and Richard Boath, 58.

The SFO has also charged Barclays, Varley and Jenkins with the provision of unlawful financial assistance.

The charges relate to an emergency deal made with Qatar while rival banks, including RBS and Lloyds, were forced to seek taxpayer bailouts to avoid collapse. Barclays sought Qatari funding twice during 2008, the Financial Times reported.

The defendants will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on July 3, the SFO said in a news release.

Barclays said in a statement it was “considering its position” over the charges and was awaiting further details from the SFO.

Image: Barclays' head office in Canary Wharf, London.
Barclays' head office in the Canary Wharf area of London. TAL COHEN / EPA

Jenkins will vigorously defend himself against the charges, his lawyer told Reuters.

"As one might expect in the challenging circumstances of 2008, Mr. Jenkins sought and received both internal and external legal advice on each and every topic covered by the SFO's accusations today," Brad Kaufman, who is the long-time counsel for Jenkins at U.S. law firm Greenberg Traurig, told the agency.

Separately, another former Barclays executive was due to start a new job this week as a finance minister in the minority government of Prime Minister Theresa May.

Steve Barclay, who was appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury, was previously director of regulatory affairs at the bank’s retail division, according to his website.