- U.K. prosecutor interviewing former executives for second time
- John Varley, Roger Jenkins among those called by prosecutors
The U.K. Serious Fraud Office has started re-interviewing former Barclays Plc executives over the bank’s 2008 Qatar fundraising, as the agency aims to complete its investigation by the end of the year.
The SFO in recent weeks began questioning individuals in connection with the case for the second time, according to four people with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because the interviews are private. Among the executives called in are one time Chief Executive Officer John Varley and two other officials who oversaw parts of operations in the Middle East, Roger Jenkins and Richard Boath.
The SFO first interviewed about a dozen former executives, including ex-CEO Bob Diamond, in 2014, two years after opening its investigation. The agency is looking into possible corruption connected to the 322 million pounds ($422 million) the London-based bank paid the Qatar Investment Authority in advisory fees in relation to its 7 billion-pound fundraising at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to avoid a state bailout.
The interview requests come after Barclays handed over about 100,000 internal documents to the SFO from the Qatar deal earlier this year, ending a long-running dispute with the agency over their disclosure. The bank had previously claimed the files were covered by attorney-client privilege and the parties were weeks away from a court hearing when the bank changed its mind. The decision came a few months after Barclays appointed Jes Staley as its new CEO.
Officials at the SFO and Barclays declined to comment, as did lawyers for Varley, Jenkins and Boath.
The newly released documents are also being examined by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, which issued a 50 million-pound fine against Barclays in 2013 over its failure to adequately disclose the Qatari fees. The bank said it will challenge the penalty, which has been put on hold due to the SFO’s criminal investigation. The FCA also fined a number of the individuals, whose appeals are being delayed for the same reason. A spokesman for the FCA declined to comment on how the new documents could affect the penalties.
Lawyers for the SFO told a London court in May the agency was planning to conclude its investigation by the end of the year with decisions on whether to file charges soon after.