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Exclusive: Barclays Finance Chief Lucas Quits

(c) Sky News 2013

The group finance director of Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) is to step down amid an ongoing probe by British regulators into a controversial £7bn capital-raising that allowed the bank to avoid the Government's clutches in 2008.

I can exclusively reveal that Chris Lucas, who has been Barclays' finance director for almost six years, will retire later this year.

The bank will announce Mr Lucas's decision to leave in a statement to the stock market on Monday. Headhunters have been appointed to identify his successor.

It was unclear on Sunday whether Mr Lucas will receive any form of payoff, although insiders described this as "extremely unlikely".

Including bonuses and deferred share awards, Mr Lucas earned almost £4m in each of the last two years.

He was one of several executives who waived an annual bonus for 2012 because of Barclays' involvement in the Libor scandal but may still be in line for an award under the bank's long-term incentive plan for last year.

The news of his retirement will come at an awkward time for Barclays and its chief executive Antony Jenkins, who is attempting to rehabilitate the bank's reputation in the aftermath of a series of scandals.

Barclays has been under investigation for several months by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Financial Services Authority (FSA) for various disclosure issues related to its 2008 fundraisings.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that one of the angles being probed by the authorities was whether Barclays lent the money to Qatari investors which was then used to acquire Barclays shares.

Such an action would be illegal because it would have presented a potentially false impression of Barclays' financial health and attractiveness to outside investors.

There is no suggestion that Mr Lucas or any of the three others under investigation - Richard Boath, a senior investment banker who still works at the bank; Roger Jenkins, the former head of Barclays' lucrative tax-structuring operations; and John Varley, Barclays' former chief executive - are guilty of any wrongdoing, and insiders stressed that Mr Lucas's retirement was unconnected to the inquiries.

The individuals are being investigated by the FSA, while the SFO is looking at the bank.

In July last year, Barclays said in a statement: "The FSA is investigating the sufficiency of disclosure in relation to fees payable under certain commercial agreements and whether these may have related to Barclays capital raisings in June and November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) 2008. Barclays considers that it satisfied its disclosure obligations and confirms that it will co-operate fully with the FSA's investigation."

A series of share placings and fundraisings in 2008 allowed the bank to raise capital privately and avoid having to take money from the British taxpayer. That enabled Barclays to retain control of its strategy and the ability to continue paying big bonuses in a way which eluded both Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) and Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) .

As Barclays' finance director, Mr Lucas has been an architect of the bank's strategy during the last six years.

His earlier career included a long stint at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm, where for five years he was the partner responsible for auditing Barclays.

The FSA continues to have confidence in Mr Lucas's ability to do his job.

Mr Lucas's departure later this year will complete a clean sweep of Barclays' top management following its £290m fine for manipulating the interbank borrowing rate Libor last June.

Marcus Agius, the former chairman, was replaced by the City grandee Sir David Walker, while Bob Diamond, chief executive, was effectively forced out by regulators, with Mr Jenkins appointed as his successor. Jerry del Missier had only been chief operating officer for a few days when he also resigned over the Libor scandal.

It is unclear whether Barclays has already drawn up a list of either internal or external potential successors to Mr Lucas although one person close to the bank said it was possible that a replacement would be announced imminently.

Last week Mr Jenkins waived his 2012 bonus days after Sky News revealed that Sir John Sunderland, the chairman of Barclays' remuneration committee, had signalled to investors that the board wanted to award him a significant payout.

Mr Jenkins and Sir David will appear before the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards on Tuesday, when they are likely to be quizzed about the status of the probes into the 2008 capital-raisings, the bank's culture and the protracted mis-selling episodes which are blighting the balance sheets of the major UK banks.

Mr Jenkins will then present his strategy for Barclays alongside the bank's annual results on February 12.

Last month he told employees that they would have to abide by a strict new ethical code of conduct if they wanted a future at the company.