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Ex-Barclays bosses cleared after failed Serious Fraud Office prosecution

By Henry Vaughan, Emily Pennink, August Graham and Luke Powell, PA

A jury took less than six hours to clear three former Barclays bosses of fraud after an investigation that started in 2012.

Roger Jenkins, 64, Thomas Kalaris, 64, and Richard Boath, 61, walked free from the Old Bailey on Friday after the latest failed Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution, over a £4 billion investment deal with Qatar at the height of the banking crisis.

Scotsman Jenkins was said to be Barclays’ “gatekeeper” to the wealthy Middle Eastern state, and in 2008 helped the bank with two large capital raisings to avoid a government bailout.

At the height of the financial crisis, Barclays was desperate to not take cash from the Treasury and turned to private investors to stay on the right side of new rules on capital requirements.

In June, Barclays secured £4.4 billion, with £1.9 billion invested by Qatar, followed by a second tranche in the autumn of £6.8 billion, of which £2.05 billion was from Qatar.

The money helped the bank calm nerves in Westminster, allowing it to avoid the fate of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is still owned by the Government.

The SFO alleged the lucrative terms given to Qatar, including an extra £322 million in fees, were hidden from the market and other investors through bogus advisory service agreements (ASAs).

But multi-millionaire Jenkins, who was linked to a string of glamorous women including supermodel Elle MacPherson, was acquitted of fraud, alongside his former colleagues following a five-month trial.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for around five-and-a-half hours.

Speaking outside court, Mr Boath said he felt “very relieved” about the verdicts.

Richard Boath outside the Old Bailey (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“I was very surprised they brought the case. Frankly it was a complete invention on the part of the SFO and they should really never have brought it,” he said.

“If there was a case against the bank or any of the people in the bank, the agreements were signed off at the board, so none of the defendants were on the board, had any access to the board… and that’s point about the SFO case, it didn’t make any sense at all.”

The SFO is yet to disclose the cost of the investigation, which began in August 2012.

It is understood that a core team of eight people worked on the case at any one time, consisting of investigators and lawyers.

Two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and one charge of unlawful financial assistance against Barclays were dismissed by a judge in May 2018 and in October the SFO failed in a High Court bid to reverse the decision.

At the time of the alleged fraud, each of the defendants held very senior positions at the firm.

Jenkins was Barclays Capital (“BarCap”) executive chairman of investment banking and investment management in the Middle East and North Africa; Kalaris was Barclays’ wealth management CEO and Boath was Barclays Capital head of financial institutions group for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Senior Barclays executive Roger Jenkins (Victoria Jones/PA)

Jenkins, of Malibu, California; Kalaris, of Thurloe Square, west London; and Boath, of Henley-on-Thames, were acquitted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and fraud by false representation between May 1 2008 and August 31 2008.

Jenkins was also acquitted of two similar offences dated between September 1 2008 and November 30 2008.

Jurors were told that a fourth man, Christopher Lucas, had been found unfit to face trial due to illness.

Thomas Kalaris outside the Old Bailey (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The three bankers originally went on trial in January last year alongside former Barclays chief executive John Varley.

However, in April last year a judge dismissed the charges against them, saying the SFO did not have enough evidence to proceed.

The SFO appealed against the decision, but it was upheld in relation to Varley by the Court of Appeal.

Former Barclays chief executive John Varley (Victoria Jones/PA)

A statement released on behalf of Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jassim Bin-Jaber Al Thani, who was prime minister of Qatar between 2007 and 2013, said: “The case against the defendants included the incorrect claim that additional service agreements proposed by Barclays to the Qatari parties at the time the bank was raising capital in 2008 were not genuine.

“The Qatari parties always anticipated that the retrial would show this claim to be untrue and they are of course pleased that this has happened and that the true position has now been made entirely clear.”

Jessica Parker and Peter Binning, partners at Corker Binning, said: “Our client John Varley was discharged at the first trial in April 2019 when the trial judge ruled he had no case to answer.

“The prosecution appeal failed. Today’s verdicts finally bring this very long running prosecution to an end. The verdicts raise serious questions about the SFO decision to bring the case.”

An SFO spokesman said: “Our prosecution decisions are always based on the evidence that is available, and we are determined to bring perpetrators of serious financial crime to justice. “Wherever our evidential and public interest tests are met, we will always endeavour to bring this before a court.”