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Ex-Barclays CEO acquitted in criminal case over 2008 bailout

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Former Barclays' CEO John Varley arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, Britain, January 23, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The former CEO of Barclays (BARC.L) has been acquitted in a criminal case against him related to a bailout of the bank by Qatar at the height of the financial crisis.

John Varley was cleared by the appeal court on Friday. Trial judge Justice Jay ruled that the evidence against Varley on the two counts he faced was insufficient for the case to proceed. An appeal against that ruling was dismissed and Varley was acquitted of the charges.

Varley was one of four former Barclays executives accused of fraud charges related to a multi-billion-pound investment in the bank by Qatar made at the height of the financial crisis.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleged that the four bankers misled the stock market by not fully disclosing fees paid to Qatar.

The defendants in the case were: John Varley, who was CEO of Barclays between 2004 and 2011; Roger Jenkins, who ran Barclays Capital’s investment management business in the Middle East and North Africa; Thomas Kalaris, the former CEO of Barclays’ wealth and investment management; and Richard Boath, the former head of the European financial institutions group at Barclays Capital.

The other three defendants in the case will be retried at a date to be determined.

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and a company connected to the Middle Eastern country’s ruling family invested £4.4bn ($5.7bn) in Barclays across two capital raises in 2008, as part of a total of £11.8bn raised by the bank. The investment helped save Barclays from a state bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

The Qataris were paid £322m in fees, equivalent to 3.25% of their investment. This was more than the commission paid to other investors in the funding round and the SFO alleged that the accused conspired to hide the true nature of the fees.

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