Barclays boss was 'up at 2am' over Qatar bonus

Pedro Gonçalves
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Barclays boss was 'up at 2am' over Qatar bonus

A senior Barclays banker had sleepless nights worrying that journalists would discover that the British bank had paid a multimillion-pound "bung" to the prime minister of Qatar as it feared the bank could be nationalised, putting their multimillion-pound pay packets at risk.

Southwark crown court heard that one of the four men charged with fraud, Roger Jenkins, was panicking in the middle of the night about the threat to his pay as the government announced a bailout package.

Three other ex-Barclays bankers - former chief executive John Varley, former wealth division chief executive Tom Kalaris, and former European division head Richard Boath - are also on trial over conspiracy to commit fraud charges.

The Times reports the jury heard that Jenkins was recorded in a phone call to colleagues saying: "At 2 o'clock in the morning I was panicking that we were about to get nationalised and you guys must have been the same because the government…wouldn't look kindly on compensation over a million dollars."

Prosecution QC Edward Brown added that, as Barclays sought to avoid a government takeover, the quartet would have been "highly motivated to keep their jobs", and their concerns over the government potentially limiting dividends, senior pay or management control were borne out in board meeting minutes.

Barclays was among banks needing extra funding during the crisis, however, unlike peers like Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, Barclays was able to raise sufficient funds from investors to avoid a government bailout.

The four bankers are accused of conspiring to secretly pay Qatar £322m, in return for billions of pounds of investment in the bank, thereby allowing it to avoid a government bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.

'Scared to death'
The court heard transcripts of a phone call between the bankers in which one said: "John [Varley] is scared to death that the government turn up tomorrow morning."

Roger Jenkins was worried about what might happen to his pay if the bank had to be rescued by the government, according to a phone call played to the jury. The prosecution told the jury that Jenkins was paid £39.5m the previous year.

In the conversation, the executives discuss the risk of their bonuses being disclosed, together with those of Barclays' group chief executive, John Varley, and Barclays Capital chief executive, Bob Diamond.