Decision of five-year investigation into deal with Qatar sovereign wealth fund now expected in June after officers fail to meet end of May deadline.
The Serious Fraud Office has further delayed its decision on whether to bring any criminal charges against Barclays and former executives at the bank over a 2008 fundraising.
A decision is now expected in mid-June, despite the SFO setting an end-of-May deadline earlier in the year – itself a delay from an end of March deadline.
The latest setback means that Barclays and a group of former senior bankers will not know the outcome of the five-year investigation until after the general election on 8 June. The probe into the circumstances around an emergency fundraising from a unit of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund was announced in August 2012.
The decision into one of the most high-profile investigations conducted by the SFO comes at a sensitive time. The Conservative party manifesto outlined plans to roll the SFO into the National Crime Agency, in an attempt to “improving intelligence sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime”.
The investigation, according to disclosures by Barclays, focuses on commercial arrangements between the bank and Qatar Holding – an investment vehicle for the Gulf state – which bought shares in Barclays during two fundraisings at the height of the financial crisis. In June 2008 Barclays raised a total of £4.5bn then a further £7.3bn in October from a number of investors including Qatar Holding.
In documents accompanying the June fund aisings Barclays disclosed an “advisory services” arrangement with Qatar but did not put a value on the deal. It did not disclose the arrangement in the October documentation or value them. The bank has since said the fees amounted to £332m payable over five years.
Barclays first revealed investigations into Qatari arrangements in July 2012 and admitted in September 2013 that the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, wanted to fine it £50m for “reckless behaviour” during the cash calls. That finding was stayed while the SFO investigated, although the City regulator has since reopened its inquiry following the disclosure of new documents by the bank.
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