Barclays faces new criminal inquiry by UK fraud office
THE SERIOUS Fraud Office has launched a second criminal investigation into Barclays, as the agency examines payments the bank made as part of its 2008 Middle East capital raising.
The bank said last night that the UK’s main prosecutor of corruption had opened a formal criminal inquiry into the issue.
“Barclays confirms that the Serious Fraud Office has commenced an investigation into payments under certain commercial agreements between Barclays and Qatar Holding,” it said in a statement.
One person familiar with the investigation said: “The probe has begun. Documents have been requested.”
The development is another blow for the bank, which is still reeling from the impact of a transatlantic regulatory investigation into its attempted manipulation of Libor interbank borrowing rates.
That affair led to a £290 million fine in June and the resignation of the bank’s chairman, Marcus Agius, and chief executive, Bob Diamond.
Barclays said Sir David Walker would be its new chairman three weeks ago, although the bank is still without a chief executive.
People close to the chief executive selection process say a successor to Mr Diamond should be identified within the next month, although the favoured choice of many shareholders – Bill Winters, the former JPMorgan number two – recently withdrew from the process. That has left Antony Jenkins, Barclays’ head of retail banking, as the most likely choice, according to bankers and analysts.
Within weeks of the resignation of Mr Diamond and Mr Agius, the bank revealed that the Financial Services Authority had begun an investigation into Chris Lucas, its finance director, and three other current and former employees.
The FSA’s case – now being taken up by the SFO – centres on whether Barclays adequately disclosed fees it paid to the Qatar Investment Authority. The criminal investigation is focused on the bank, not on individuals. The SFO and the FSA declined to comment.
A criminal investigation into the Qatari deal adds to Barclays woes after the SFO said last month it would begin an investigation into attempted manipulation of Libor and other benchmark lending rates.
Barclays settled its civil case over the Libor affair with the FSA and US authorities in June. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012