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Barclays-Qatar Deal Made without ex-Chairman’s Knowledge

Barclays-Qatar Deal Made without ex-Chairman’s Knowledge

Thursday, 21 February, 2019 - 11:00
In this file photo taken on October 22, 2017 shows the front of a branch of Barclays bank in central London on October 22, 2017. Reuters
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Former Barclays chairman Marcus Agius has said he was unaware of documents detailing £280m worth of payments to the bank’s Qatari investors in 2008 that is at the center of a fraud trial in London.
 
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has questioned Agius over his knowledge of a key document from October 31 that year, detailing the payment terms of an advisory services agreement that would result in the bank paying £280m to the Qataris.
 
“Absolutely not … I saw this document for the first time some years afterward,” Agius told a jury at Southwark crown court on Wednesday. “Not only did I not see this document, I was not aware of its existence, ” the veteran banker said on his second day in the witness box. He said he first saw the document in 2012.”
 
The SFO’s lead prosecutor, Edward Brown QC, went on to ask whether the former chairman was aware of how it was negotiated or how the figure was arrived at. To both questions, Agius answered “no”.
 
The SFO alleges four former Barclays executives – Richard Boath, John Varley, Roger Jenkins and Tom Kalaris – lied to the stock market and other investors about how £322m in fees were paid to Qatar in relation to emergency fundraising of more than £11bn in 2008.

Varley and Agius had been jointly handed full authority to carry out a second capital raising after a meeting of a board finance committee, established by Barclays on October 28, 2008. This included approving fees that were “fair and reasonable”, according to documents presented to the court.

“Matters were moving almost on an hourly basis,” Agius said, noting that a smaller decision-making group was more practical to secure strategic investors as markets gyrated in the credit crunch.

Agius, the first prosecution witness to give evidence, said he had been aware of underwriting fees and a 66 million pound payment for Qatar.

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