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>> Barclays and four of its top former executives have been charged with criminal offences by Britain's Serious Fraud Office relating to its fundraising at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. I'm Lawrence White, UK banking correspondent for Reuters, reporting here from Barclay's headquarters in the heart of London's financial district.
The bank and its executives have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud for the way in which they allegedly misled the public and investors over payments made to the Qataris in return for the investment. Barclays, unlike its rivals Lloyds and RBS, didn't receive any funding from the state.
The bank was very keen at the time of the crisis to avoid any kind of bailout and that's why it reached out to Qatari Investors who put in a total of 12 billion pounds over two fundraisings. The investigation has been running for five years. This is the first time that a bank has faced criminal charges for any kind of actions during the financial crisis.
So, this is probably the most significant charge yet for any financial institution. The bank faces a possible fine from the SFO in addition to a fine from Britain's Financial Conduct Authority. The individual bankers could face sentences of up to ten years in jail if convicted. And more broadly, Barclays faces the reputational fallout of facing criminal charges for the way in which it tried to avoid state bailout during the crisis.
So far, two of the executives who've been charged have said they will vigorously contest the charges. They say there’s no merit in them. Barclays itself has said that it’s considering its position which could be a hint that it may be pleading to the charges. But we'll have to wait and see whether they choose to context this case, or whether they accept their wrongdoing and pay a fine as a result.