Exclusive: UK nears decision on whether to charge ex-Barclays bankers over Qatar - sources

Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:34am EDT
 
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By Kirstin Ridley and Steve Slater

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's fraud prosecutor could decide as soon as next month whether to charge former Barclays executives over undisclosed payments the bank made to Qatari investors in 2008, three sources familiar with the investigation said.

In a two-year investigation the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has interviewed former chief executives Bob Diamond and John Varley, former finance director Chris Lucas, former tax advisory boss Roger Jenkins and other Barclays staff.

Barclays and a spokesman for Diamond declined to comment.

Varley, Lucas and Jenkins could not be reached or did not respond to requests for comment.

The SFO has not specified why it is investigating the payments Barclays made to Qatar Holdings when the Qatari sovereign wealth fund invested in the bank. SFO head David Green would only say: "We are making progress with this case, and we are not going away."

The sources said the agency was expected to decide by late-September or October whether to charge any of the men, after examining its evidence to determine whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.

If charged, these would be the most senior bankers prosecuted to date for alleged crimes during the 2007-08 financial crisis, which brought the global financial system to its knees and plunged much of the world into recession.

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John Varley, is driven away after a meeting with Britain's Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable, at the Treasury in London December 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Andrew Winning