UK court drops charges against Barclays over Qatar funding

London (AFP) –


A British court has dropped criminal charges against Barclays over its emergency fundraising from Qatar during the financial crisis a decade ago, the lender said Monday.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had sought to prosecute Barclays for allegedly conspiring to commit fraud by false representations in services agreements with Qatar Holding in 2008.

There was also one alleged offence of unlawful financial assistance over a $3.0-billion (2.5-billion-euro) loan provided by Barclays to the State of Qatar in the same year.

The lender said in a statement Monday that London's Southwark Crown Court has "dismissed all charges" against Barclays Bank and parent firm Barclays PLC regarding "matters which arose in the context of Barclays' capital raisings in 2008".

But the group also warned that the SFO is likely to seek to reinstate the charges by applying to the High Court.

"The dismissals do not and should not be taken to indicate any finding on the issue of whether a criminal offence has or may have been committed by other persons," it cautioned.

The news on Monday is a setback for the SFO, which has conducted a five-year investigation into Barclays' cash call in 2008.

The SFO is however still prosecuting four former executives over the matter.

The charges concerned emergency funding secured from Qatari investors in 2008 as the global banking sector went into meltdown.

In order to avoid asking the UK government for a taxpayer bailout, Barclays raised nearly £12 billion (13.5 billion euros, $16.6 billion) from investors in the Middle East, including the Qatari state sovereign wealth fund, to help it weather the storm.

In turn, Barclays loaned $3.0 billion to the State of Qatar.

By contrast, rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds had to have billions of pounds of British taxpayers' money pumped into them.