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Three Barclays bankers cleared of fraud over £4 billion crisis deal with Qatar

By Henry Vaughan, PA

Three former Barclays bosses have been cleared of fraud over a £4 billion investment deal with Qatar at the height of the banking crisis.

Scotsman Roger Jenkins, 64, 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.

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 Serious Fraud Office (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 on Friday acquitted of fraud, alongside former colleagues Thomas Kalaris, 64, and Richard Boath, 61 at the Old Bailey.

Former Barclays senior executive Thomas Kalaris (Victoria Jones/PA)

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

At the time of the alleged fraud, each of the defendants held very senior positions at Barclays, jurors heard.

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.

Prosecutor Ed Brown QC told jurors: “They acted dishonestly in order to preserve the future of the bank and to preserve their own positions.”

Senior Barclays executive Richard Boath (Victoria Jones/PA)

The defendants denied wrongdoing, with Bill Boyce QC, for Boath, describing the allegation as “preposterous”.

Mr Boyce told jurors: “The SFO have to prove that Roger Jenkins and Sheikh Hamad agreed a sham contract … this despite the fact that it was obvious to both sides that a long-term strategic relationship was in both their interests.”

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 (PA)

The three bankers had originally been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud alongside former Barclays chief executive John Varley.

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

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

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.

Barclays will now face a civil suit from Amanda Staveley’s private equity firm PCP Capital Partners, which is seeking damages of up to £1.6 billion from the bank.

Ms Staveley’s firm is suing Barclays for allegedly deceiving it over emergency fundraisings in 2008 that were designed to avoid a UK government bailout.

The case is expected to be heard later this year after it was postponed several times to allow the criminal trial to proceed.

A spokesperson for PCP said: “The criminal case brought by the SFO against Jenkins, Kalaris and Boath involved different issues, tried before different tribunals, with different parties and different standards of proof. PCP’s claim is not brought against individuals at the bank. It is brought against the bank itself for civil liability. PCP’s claim is not impacted by the outcome of the criminal trial.”

The PCP case is expected to start in June this year.