Barclays Says SFO-Qatar Charges Dismissed by London Court

(Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc said that a London court dismissed all the charges against the bank and its parent company over a 2008 capital raising with Qatar, in a big win for the lender that’s been dogged by legal issues for a decade.

The court dismissed two charges of “conspiring with certain former senior officers and employees of Barclays to commit fraud,” the bank said in a statement Monday. The court also tossed out two charges of unlawful financial assistance, one against the bank and another against its holding company, in relation to a $3 billion loan provided to Qatar in 2008.

The ruling, if upheld, is good news for Barclays because any conviction of the operating unit could have hurt the lender’s ability to do business globally. It builds on a series of regulatory decisions that have gone the bank’s way this year, including settling a long-running U.S. probe into the sale of toxic mortgage bonds for half the penalty prosecutors initially wanted, as well as Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley getting off with only a fine after a U.K. investigation into his attempts to uncover a whistle-blower.

Prosecutors at the U.K. Serious Fraud Office will likely seek to reinstate the charges by applying to a High Court judge to restart the proceedings through a new indictment, the bank said. Four former executives from the bank are also facing prosecution over the deal that allowed Barclays to avoid a state bailout during the 2008 financial crisis. The prosecution relates to a 12 billion-pound ($16 billion) fundraising that involved Qatar.

The SFO declined to immediately comment.

Advisory Agreements

At the heart of the case are two advisory services agreements with Qatar Holding LLC in 2008 totaling 322 million pounds, the nature of which are now being questioned.

Barclays declined to comment beyond the statement. Shares of the bank rose 1.95 pence, about 1 percent, to 209.45 pence at 12:32 p.m. in London trading.

The decision is a rare win for a U.K. defendant seeking to throw out charges, as judges typically give prosecutors great deference. Those dismissals that are successful are often on the basis of technicalities involving the laws used to charge or, in the case of a company, whether the right part of the entity was charged, rather than evidence.

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