March 4, 2019
By Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) – Top Barclays executives worried that investors in the bank’s 2008 emergency fundraising would go “nuts” if Qatar was given a better deal unfairly, a London court heard on Monday.
Richard Boath, one of four former Barclays bosses on trial over fraud charges, told the bank’s former Middle East head Roger Jenkins that they had to be careful to ensure the legality of a plan to pay Qatar extra fees it was demanding in the form of a separate advisory agreement.
“We can’t do a capital markets transaction in which we give one set of fees to one set of investors, and a different set of economics for another set of investors because if they found out they’d go nuts,” Boath said he told Jenkins in a recording of a 2014 interview with Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) played to the jury.
An unfairly preferential deal could also have risked trouble for the executives who planned it, Boath said he told Jenkins.
“He said well fuck that I am not taking a hit to save John and Bob’s jobs,” Boath reported Jenkins as replying, referring to Barclays’ former chief executive John Varley and former investment banking chief Bob Diamond.
The SFO contends that Boath, Jenkins, Varley and former head of wealth management Tom Kalaris misled shareholders and other investors by not disclosing that Barclays paid an extra 322 million pounds ($424 million) to Qatar through so-called “advisory service agreements” (ASAs) at the height of the credit crisis.
All four men, the most senior to face a criminal trial over crisis-era conduct, deny wrongdoing. Qatar has not been accused of any misconduct. Diamond is not involved in the trial.
The agreements were entirely legal and authorized by the bank’s internal and external lawyers, board and compliance department, Kalaris said last week in a prepared statement read out to the jury by prosecutors.
Boath likewise on Monday said in recorded statements played to jurors that, after raising concerns about the ASAs, he became comfortable that they were legal and approved by the relevant authorities within the bank.
The prosecution alleges that concerns about the deal expressed by the defendants show they thought or knew what they were doing was wrong. Whereas the bankers say it just shows they were being careful to remain within the rules.
China Development bank and Singapore’s Temasek were among the other investors in the eventual deals in 2008 that meant Barclays avoided a state bailout, unlike rivals Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The trial continues this week.
(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Mark Potter)