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Ex-Barclays bosses worried about jail risk of £322m Qatar deal, court hears

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent
Photograph: Mark Thomas/REX/Shutterstock

Former Barclays bosses were worried that a side deal to pay Qatar £322m was one of the most dangerous parts of the bank’s emergency fundraising in 2008 and risked landing them in jail where “the food sucks and the sex is worse”, a court has heard.

Prosecutors for the Serious Fraud Office told the Old Bailey in London that phone calls and transcripts proved the bankers were trying to disguise the payments, which were demanded by Qatari investors in exchange for their participation in the £11bn fundraising.

Edward Brown QC, prosecuting, claimed the three defendants knew the arrangement may be illegal and wanted lawyers to sign off on the deal.

In a June 2008 phone call Richard Boath, then Barclays’ investment banking chief, told fellow defendant Thomas Kalaris, then head of its wealth division: “Frankly we all know that whatever we enter into we are entering into in exchange for the subscription agreement. So, you know, it is, he’s [the lawyer has] got to get his head round it.”

“Yeah that’s right,” replied Kalaris. “None of us wants to go to jail here … the food sucks and the sex is worse.”

Boath later referred to the deal, as “one of the most dangerous aspects of this whole transaction”.

Brown said the bankers were under pressure to secure the funding from Qatar, and otherwise risked Barclays being nationalised through a government bailout as the financial crisis took hold.

One of Boath’s colleagues lamented that the Qataris “had them by the balls” in negotiations.

“What he doesn’t realise is that if he doesn’t come through with his money we’re fucked,” Boath was later heard saying.

Boath, Kalaris and Barclays’ former investment banking chief Roger Jenkins are accused of lying to the stock market and other investors about how the £322m was paid to Qatar, in exchange for a £4bn investment. The SFO alleges the trio used two fraudulent “advisory services agreements” to hide the payments.

The defendant are accused of fraud, well as conspiracy to commit fraud. All three deny the charges.

A previous trial involving all three executives came to a close in April, when the jury was discharged.

This trial is expected to last four to five months.