Three senior ex-Barclays bankers on trial for fraud were accused today of creating a “smoke-screen” to try and justify millions of pounds surreptitiously paid to Qatar in exchange for a multi-billion pound investment in 2008.
Roger Jenkins, Richard Boath and Thomas Kalaris are standing trial at the Old Bailey, accused of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and fraud by false representation – charges they deny.
Edward Brown QC, prosecuting for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), said the trio tried to justify millions of pounds being paid to Qatar in two advisory services agreements, which the SFO alleges were vehicles to disguise extra fees paid to Qatar in return for its investment.
“It is clear that there were some ‘after the event’ attempts to demonstrate that the services had been provided,” he said.
But these “were nothing more than a smoke-screen to seek to legitimise what had gone before,” he said.
The second advisory services agreement – which committed Barclays to paying Qatar £280m over five years – was signed by Jenkins on 31 October.
“Despite the fact it purportedly committed Barclays to a payment of over a quarter of a billion pounds, the letter was only a little longer than a single sheet of paper,” Brown said.
“The complete lack of any negotiations as to the nature of the services for £280m or their value is just one indicator of its fundamental dishonesty,” Brown said.
This second advisory services agreement “was a means of dishonestly hiding the true extent of the fees payable to the Qataris,” Brown said. “And as before, lies were told about the payment of these additional fees.”
Barclays had signed a previous advisory services agreement worth £42m with Qatar in June.
The second agreement “acclaimed the ‘great success’ of the existing agreement,” Brown said.
“That grandiose claim itself was nonsense,” he added.
Jenkins has been charged in relation to two emergency fundraisings in June and October 2008 that raised more than £11bn for the bank, and Boath and Kalaris have been charged in relation to the June fundraising.
Barclays’ former chief financial officer, Chris Lucas, would have faced charges in relation to both fundraisings but is too ill to stand trial.
Barristers for the defence are expected to start making their case next week.
The trial – which is expected to last at least five months – continues.