Three former Barclays executives have been cleared of fraud over a £4billion investment deal with Qatar at the height of the banking crisis.
Scotsman Roger Jenkins, 64, was said to be Barclays’ ‘gatekeeper’ to the wealthy Middle Eastern state, and in 2008 helped the bank with two large capital raisings to avoid a government bailout.
He was accused alongside Tom Kalaris, 64, and 61-year-old Richard Boath, of lying about interest rates they were paying to the Qataris for the loans to ward off the bailout in the 2008 financial crisis.
The trio’s acquittal puts pressure on the Serious Fraud Office after their investigation went on for five years and cost £15million.
In June, Barclays secured £4.4 billion, with £1.9 billion invested by Qatar, followed by a second tranche in the autumn of £6.8 billion, of which £2.05 billion was from Qatar.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleged the lucrative terms given to Qatar, including an extra £322 million in fees, were hidden from the market and other investors through bogus advisory service agreements (ASAs).
But multi-millionaire Jenkins, who was linked to a string of glamorous women including supermodel Elle MacPherson, was on Friday acquitted of fraud, alongside former colleagues Thomas Kalaris, 64, and Richard Boath, 61 at the Old Bailey.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for around five-and-a-half hours following a five-month trial.
Mr Jenkins was said to be Barclays’ ‘gatekeeper’ to the wealthy Middle Eastern state, and in 2008 helped the bank with two large capital raisings to avoid a government bailout
A previous £5m case against the executives, and former chief executive John Varley, 63, collapsed last year at Southwark Crown Court.
Mr Justice Jay ruled at the time there was ‘no evidential case to answer for Varley and no case to answer on legal grounds for all four defendants’.
But the SFO appealed the decision at the High Court and were able to bring a retrial against Boath, Kalaris, and Jenkins – only to lose again.
It is just the latest in a series of disastrous prosecutions by the SFO which will now face calls for a complete overhaul or abolition.
At the time of the alleged fraud, each of the defendants held very senior positions at Barclays, jurors heard.
Jenkins was Barclays Capital (‘BarCap’) executive chairman of investment banking and investment management in the Middle East and North Africa; Kalaris was Barclays’ wealth management CEO and Boath was Barclays Capital head of financial institutions group for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Prosecutor Ed Brown QC told jurors: ‘They acted dishonestly in order to preserve the future of the bank and to preserve their own positions.’
The defendants denied wrongdoing, with Bill Boyce QC, for Boath, describing the allegation as ‘preposterous’.
Mr Boyce told jurors: ‘The SFO have to prove that Roger Jenkins and Sheikh Hamad agreed a sham contract … this despite the fact that it was obvious to both sides that a long-term strategic relationship was in both their interests.’
Jenkins, of Malibu, California; Kalaris, of Thurloe Square, west London; and Boath, of Henley-on-Thames, were acquitted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and fraud by false representation between May 1 2008 and August 31 2008.
Jenkins was also acquitted of two similar offences dated between September 1 2008 and November 30 2008.
Jurors were told that a fourth man, Christopher Lucas, had been found unfit to face trial due to illness.
The latest prosecution failure by the SFO comes after Michael Sorby, Adrian Leek and David Justice were all cleared by a jury at Southwark Crown Court of taking part in a bribery plot for their former employer, metals company Sarclad.
Their case followed the failure of the SFO’s case against three former Tesco executives in relation to a £250m accounting scandal in January 2019 and its decision to abandon a case against former executives at Rolls-Royce in February.
In those three cases the SFO had made ‘Deferred Prosecution Agreements’ with the companies in which they self-reported in return for avoiding prosecution as a corporation.
But every time the SFO then bungled the trial of the individual executives.