Court Ruling: Former Barclays Chair ‘Not Aware’ of 2008 Qatar Side Deal

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    On Wednesday, a court heard that Marcus Agius, the former Barclays chairman, was not aware of a side deal struck with Qatar in 2008 that is now at the heart of a criminal trial.

    Agius served as the chairman of Barclays from 2007 to 2012. He presented evidence as part of a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) case against four former executives of Barclays who are accused of misleading its investors over the true level of fees that were paid to Qatar in 2008 in exchange for multibillion-pound investments that saved the bank from a bailout.

    The defendants in the case are: Roger Jenkins, who formerly ran investment management business of Barclays Capital in the Middle East and North Africa; John Varley, the CEO of Barclays between 2004 and 2011; Richard Boath, the former head of European financial institutions group at Barclays Capital, and Thomas Kalaris, the former CEO of Barclays’ wealth and investment management.

    Both Jenkins and Varley face two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, and Boath and Kalaris each face one. All four have pleaded not guilty. Qatar is not accused of any wrongdoing.

    On Wednesday, Agius was asked by Ed Brown QC if he was aware of an advisory service agreement (ASA) that was struck with Qatar alongside a £2 billion ($1.5 billion) investment in October 2008.

    Agius stated: “Absolutely not. I saw this document for the first time some years after,” adding that he saw it first in 2012.”

    Agius said to the jury at Southwark Crown Court: “Not only did I not see the document, I was not aware of its existence,”

    ASAs struck between Qatar and Barclays alongside two investments in 2008 are at the heart of the case of the SFO against the former bankers of Barclays. The prosecutors claim that these ASAs were “smokescreens” that were used to pay Qatar additional investment fees that were not paid to other investors at the time and not properly exposed to the market.

    Qatar Holdings was paid £280 million under the second ASA signed in October 2008. When asked about the document, Agius said that he was not aware of how the ASA was negotiated or how the payment amount was arrived at.

    Qatar invested more than £2 billion in Barclays in October 2008 as part of a £6.8 billion fundraise that helped the bank to avoid a state bailout as the financial crisis struck.

    The case is set to continue and is expected to last up to six months.