Barclays and four former executives were charged with fraud on Tuesday over agreements struck with Qatar during the 2008 financial crisis.
It is the first time a UK bank has ever faced criminal charges based on actions taken during the recession nine years ago.
The Serious Fraud Office accusations relate to the billions of pounds raised by the bank from Qatari investors, making it possible for Barclays to dodge a government bailout.
Other big banks including Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were forced to rely on taxpayer funding to avoid going under.
“Shares of Barclays edged lower after former chief executive John Varley and three other Barclays executives were charged with fraud,” Jasper Lawler, a senior market analyst at the London Capital Group(LCG) told Verdict.
“Barclays would face a fine if there are criminal convictions and the individuals could serve up to 10 years in prison. These were some head honchos at Barclays so the SFO’s charges represent a significant reputational threat to Barclays,” he added.
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From two deals in June 2008 and in October 2008, the bank raised nearly £12bn from an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and other investors.
John Varley, former Barclays chief executive, Roger Jenkins, former senior investment banker, Thomas Kalaris, a former chief executive of Barclays’ wealth division, and Richard Boath, the ex-European head of financial institutions, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in the June 2008 capital raising.
They will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 3 July.
A lawyer for Jenkins told Reuters that his client would “vigorously defend” himself
Varley and Jenkins have also been charged with the same offence relating to the October 2008 deal.
“The charges arise in the context of Barclays’ capital raisings in June and November 2008. Barclays awaits further details of the charges from the SFO,” the bank said in a statement.
Not everyone agrees that charges should be brought nine years on.
“Why is it in the public interest to prosecute the bank for its fund-raising efforts almost a decade ago?” Jonathan Pickworth, a partner at White and Case LLP, an international law firm told the New York Times. “Who does it punish and what purpose does it serve? All the former management team moved on many years ago. This will only hurt the current shareholders and today’s hardworking employees.”