Barclays-Staveley Ruling Could Lead to Questions From Regulators

Barclays Plc may have won a fight with financier Amanda Staveley, but the ruling could have repercussions for a related regulatory probe that’s haunted the bank for almost a decade.

Even while a judge dismissed the case last week, he said the bank was “guilty” of serious deceit as executives negotiated a rescue in 2008. Lawyers said that the findings may be of interest to the Financial Conduct Authority as it continues a probe that could lead to a multi-million pound fine.

“It seems very difficult for the FCA to ignore the fact that the bank made fraudulent misrepresentations and very senior people at that,” said Janine Alexander, a financial disputes lawyer at Collyer Bristow who wasn’t involved in the case. “The FCA are going to have to take it seriously.”

The case dates back to the chaos of the financial crisis when Barclays officials sought a massive injection of private financing to stave off a government bailout. The regulator is investigating how Barclays communicated with investors in 2008 and is considering a 50-million pound ($70 million) fine, the bank said in its annual report.

In addition to the civil case, both the bank and some former executives successfully fought off criminal charges related to the fundraising.

A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment on the implications of the ruling. The FCA said separately the case was currently before its internal tribunal -- one of the final steps before it issues a decision.

‘Same Deal’

Staveley sought 660 million pounds in damages in the lawsuit, saying the bank deceived her about the terms of the investment. The trial focused on the treatment of Middle Eastern investors that participated in the fundraising. Staveley, who partnered with Abu Dhabi, said the bank promised the “same deal” but then lied about the fact that Qatari investors got far better terms.

The judge in Friday’s ruling said that while bank officials misled Staveley about the investment, she wasn’t eligible for damages because she wouldn’t have been able to raise the funds necessary to participate in the deal.

“We hope that the regulators will have a close look at this judgment and the conclusions the judge reaches on the behavior of senior personnel within Barclays,” a lawyer for Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners said after the ruling last week.

One former FCA lawyer said that the civil case ruling could even lead the regulator to re-open a probe into some of the individuals called out by the judge. The watchdog shut investigations into former chief executive John Varley and former Middle East chief Roger Jenkins in April last year.

“One wonders whether the FCA may consider reopening investigations into senior executives following the findings,” said Tim Thomas, who now works at law firm Richardson Lissack.

Lawyers for Jenkins and Varley didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

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