Judge in Barclays-Qatar fraud trial discharges jury

LONDON • A judge discharged the jury in the fraud trial of former Barclays CEO John Varley and three other executives in connection with payments to Qatar at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis.

The criminal trial of Varley, former Middle East head Roger Jenkins, ex-wealth boss Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath, the former head of the bank’s European financial advisory group, has been hearing legal arguments about the case without the jury for the past month.

The trial of the four men in their 60s began on Jan 23. Judge Robert Jay discharged the jury in London yesterday.

The trial has been the Serious Fraud Office’s most high-profile prosecution and is the only time senior bankers have faced a jury trial in connection with events during the financial crisis.

The Serious Fraud Office accused the men, all of whom denied the allegations, of dishonestly hiding £322 million (RM1.72 billion) in payments made to Qatar from other investors.

The fees went to the Gulf nation in 2008 to gain a £4 billion investment that helped the lender avoid an unwanted UK government bailout.

Varley and Jenkins are charged with two counts of fraud — relating to fundraising rounds in June and October of 2008 — while the other two only face one count, connected with the first capital raising.

The Serious Fraud Office alleges that the men acted dishonestly by not telling other investors about the favorable investment terms Barclays was giving Qatar. — Bloomberg