Barclays ex-chairman says ‘unaware' of £280m Qatar deal
CAIRO – 21 February 2019: Former Barclays chairman Marcus Agius has told the court that “he was unaware of hundreds of millions in hidden payments Barclays allegedly made to the Qataris to secure funding during the 2008 financial crisis, while he was chair of the bank.”
Agius was speaking at the London trial of four former Barclays executives accused of lying to investors about the terms of two capital injections from the Qatari sovereign wealth fund in 2008.
Lead prosecutors for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) questioned Agius over his knowledge of a key document from October that year, revealing payment terms of an advisory services agreement that would result in the bank paying £280m to the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) and its subsidiary, Qatar Holdings.
“Absolutely not … I saw this document for the first time some years afterward,” Agius told a jury at Southwark crown court on Wednesday. “Not only did I not see this document, I was not aware of its existence.”
The SFO alleges four former Barclays executives – Richard Boath, John Varley, Roger Jenkins and Tom Kalaris – lied to the stock market and other investors about how £322m in fees were paid to Qatar in relation to emergency fundraising of more than £11bn in 2008.
Prosecutors say the executives put together two advisory services agreements in order to disguise Qatar’s demand for larger commission payments.
CAIRO - 18 February 2019: Qatari media have decided to skip on publishing news about the scandal of former Qatari Prime Mister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim and Barclays. Only Doha-based Al-Jazeera mentioned the subject once last November and Al-Sharq published an article in May under the title, "Barclays cleared of obtaining a Qatari loan," and that was it.
Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani has demanded a personal fee for “investing in Barclays during an emergency capital call in 2008, in addition to the extra commission paid by the bank to the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth funds,” a Financial Times report said on Jan. 25.
Agius said he was only made aware of the terms of the second equity raising, which included a £280m fee paid to the QIA, years later in 2012.
The SFO has accused the former Barclays executive of conspiracy to commit fraud by lying to investors about the fees paid to the Qataris, the Financial Times reported.
It is the first criminal trial to center on the behavior of leaders at a major UK bank during the financial crisis, an event that led to the nationalization of Northern Rock, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.
The prosecution has previously alleged that the Qataris asked for higher commission fees because they knew Barclays “desperately” needed the money to survive.