Barclays and four ex-bankers charged with 2008 fraud

Former chief executive John Varley and three other directors accused over crisis-era fundraising

John Varley of Barclays
Former Barclays chief executive John Varley
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

A former Barclays chief executive and three of his former directors have become the first senior banker to face criminal charges over events surrounding the banking crisis, says The Guardian.

John Varley and his ex-colleagues Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris and Richard Boath, together with the bank, have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) action relates to £11.8bn worth of emergency fundraisings in 2008, which avoided the need for a government bailout at the height of the crisis.

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Specifically, officials are investigating cash calls in June and October of that year, to which Qatar and an investment vehicle for its former prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani committed £6.1bn.

The SFO is concerned about Barclays' "side deals with Qatar, which totalled £2.4bn", including a $3bn (£2.3bn) loan to the state in November 2008, says the Financial Times.

The paper adds that both the SFO and the Financial Conduct Authority have "examined whether the bank properly disclosed fees it paid to Qatar, and whether it secretly loaned money to Qatar to reinvest in the bank".

Barclays also faces a civil lawsuit over the fundraising from British businesswoman Amanda Staveley, who is claiming for fees she claims are owed to her her PCP advisory firm, which facilitated the participation of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan from the United Arab Emirates in the action.

Barclays said it was considering its position and is awaiting further details on the charges. The four defendants will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on 3 July.

Barclays' Jes Staley faces shareholder revolt despite rising profits

28 April

Barclays could face "a significant protest vote against its chief executive" at its annual general meeting on 10 May, says The Guardian.

ISS, an influential adviser to major investors, has told shareholders to "abstain from the annual vote to re-elect" Jes Staley.

Staley, who has been lauded for turning the bank around since taking over in late 2015, has been under pressure after revelations this month that he tried to uncover the identity of a whistleblower last year.

It is quite likely he would survive a rebellion, as most shareholders - even those who have criticised his actions - say they would back him.

However, senior shareholders warn that ongoing investigations by regulators could result in Staley being stripped of his "approved person" status, which would mean he can no longer stay in his job.

"Not only is it unusual for City regulators to investigate the conduct of chief executives of major financial institutions, it is also unusual for major proxy firms to issue advice to abstain against their re-election to the board," adds the Guardian.

Staley's efforts with Barclays appear to be bearing fruit: today it reported "pre-tax profit for the first quarter was £1.7bn, up from £793m for the same period last year", says the BBC.

It also reported final profits attributable to shareholders of £190m for the three months to March, down from £433m in the same period of last year, adds the Financial Times.

"This included the £658m post-tax cost of selling its African business."

Barclays shares were down more than five per cent to 212.4p in late morning trading.

Jes Staley could be 'forced to quit' as Barclays boss, say backers

12 April

Barclays boss Jes Staley could be "forced to quit" the job he has held for a little more than a year, over allegations he breached whistleblower regulations.

That's according to several senior shareholders in the bank who spoke to the Daily Telegraph - and who all emphasised the "serious" nature of the rules breach.

Staley has admitted he twice tried to identify the author of letters raising concerns of a senior executive he hired, over alleged conduct at a previous employer for which he also worked.

The senior executive in question is believed to be financial institutions banker Tim Main - and Staley is said to have been convinced he was being “maliciously smeared”.

He roped in Barclays head of security Troels Oerting to help identify the author - and he is now also facing a "disciplinary probe", says the BBC.

Barclays own internal investigation concluded Staley mistakenly thought he was able to identify the author of the letter. He will lost his bonus for this year - but the board has otherwise given him their full backing.

But shareholders said the regulators may see any action that could discourage whistleblowing much more seriously.

“I can understand him pursuing this once but pursuing twice when he’s been told no, it becomes a lot harder to go: ‘honest guv, that was a mistake’,” said one influential Barclays investor who asked not to be named.

“If you’re going to be in these roles you’ve got to be whiter than white.”

The Telegraph adds: "Euan Stirling, head of stewardship at Standard Life Investments, a top 20 shareholder in Barclays, warned it is “entirely possible” regulators, could push Mr Staley out.

They could do so by revoking his "approved person" status, which would disqualify him from holding his post.

another investor who asked not be identified added that if regulators do decide he has to go then "that would leave the board in a very, very difficult position having backed him”.

Barclays boss's bonus docked for attempt to identify whistleblower

10 April

Jes Staley investigated over efforts to uncover name of employee behind anonymous letter to board

Barclays' chief executive Jes Staley is under investigation by City regulators and could lose his entire bonus for this year for trying to identify a whistleblower.

Both the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority will investigate the matter, which was referred to them by the bank last year.

Barclays has also reprimanded Staley and said it will dock his bonus award by as much as the whole potential payout of £1.3m, says the BBC. The chief executive's total compensation package is worth up to £8.2m this year.

Staley attempted to discover who was behind one of two "whistleblowing" letters written to the board in June 2016 raising concerns about a senior employee recruited earlier in the year - "and Mr Staley's knowledge of and role in dealing with those issues at a previous employer".

Regulations state that whistleblowers must be afforded full anonymity to encourage people to come forward and report wrongdoing.

Staley considered the letters were "an unfair personal attack" on the senior employee, says the Daily Telegraph, and attempted, through Barclays' internal investigations team, to find out who had written the first one.

He was told this was not allowed, but tried again, when the "whistleblowing issue with the letters had been cleared".

Barclays apologised and launched an internal investigation. It also notified both regulators. The author of the letter was not revealed.

Staley said: "I have apologised to the Barclays board and accepted its conclusion that my personal actions in this matter were errors on my part. I will also accept whatever sanction it deems appropriate."

He added he would also "cooperate fully" with the investigation, adding: "Our whistleblowing process is one of the most important means by which we protect our culture and values at Barclays and I certainly want to ensure that all colleagues, and others who may utilise it, understand the criticality which I attach to it."

The bank said it has accepted Staley's apology and that it has concluded it was his "honestly held, but mistaken, belief was that he had clearance to identify the author of one of the letters".

Barclays profit triples to £3.2bn in 2016

23 February

Barclays boss Jes Staley said he was "more optimistic than ever for our prospects in 2017" after the bank reported a tripling of pre-tax profits for last year.

"Overall the bank's revenues declined three per cent to £21.5bn, while pre-tax profits almost trebled to £3.2bn," says the Financial Times. "It shifted from a net loss of £394m in 2015 to a net profit of £1.6bn."

That strong performance was "helped by a sharp fall in conduct and litigation charges and a surge in investment banking revenues", the paper adds.

Since taking over in 2015, Staley has undertaken a radical restructuring of Barclays, which involves the "contrarian bet" of "doubling down" on the global investment bank.

In general, the bank is establishing a dual structure based around a retail bank in Britain and an investment bank in the US and has sold off a range of "non-core" assets, such as its African unit.

As these sales have moved quicker than expected, Staley said the bank would "bring forward the closure of the unit dealing with this by six months", to 30 June.

Shares in the bank jumped on the news this morning, gaining more than three per cent to 242.8p, despite dividends falling from 6.5p to 3p. The bank said that having boosted its capital buffer to 12.4 per cent, it "hopes to increase" the payout again later this year, says the BBC.

Barclays' positive news follows a similarly impressive showing from Lloyds, which announced yesterday it had more than doubled its 2016 pre-tax profit to £4.2bn.

However, HSBC this week posted disappointing figures for last year, which it blamed on the upheaval on international markets following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump.

Barclays freeze boss's pay to prevent revolt

13 February

Barclays's remuneration chief has reportedly told top investors that the bank will cap the pay of its chief executive, Jes Staley, in order to head off a potential shareholder revolt.

Staley will still be handsomely compensated for the three years to 2019. Bonus awards and a long-term share incentive scheme could boost his pay packet to £8.2m, says Sky News.

While this remains a "lavish sum", the chairman of Barclays's remuneration committee, Crawford Gillies, hopes that the three-year cap will "convince shareholders it is committed to avoiding further showdowns" over pay.

"A series of ugly revolts at annual shareholder meetings during the tenures of Bob Diamond and Antony Jenkins… tarnished Barclays's reputation in the City and Westminster," says Sky.

One investor appeared to confirm Gillies's view, saying the move was "sensible" in the wake of Barclays halving its shareholder dividend.

On top of the cap on pay for Staley, Barclays is expected to announce that its broader bonus pool for bankers last year will be unchanged at a little below £1.7m.

The news comes at a febrile time for corporate Britain, with anger at excessive executive pay mounting ahead of year-end annual meetings that could see mass revolts over remuneration.

Only last week, Thomas Cook was forced to water down a share incentives scheme for its top bosses after a third of shareholders rejected the deal.

Elsewhere The Times says BP is still locked in discussions over how to restructure the pay for its chief executive Bob Dudley, after his near-£14m pay deal last year was rejected by more than half of investors.

A group of the UK's leading investors is also preparing to propose that the government forces companies to hold binding votes on pay in cases where the previous year's deal was the subject of major opposition.

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