Former Barclays chairman 'not aware' of £280m Qatar side deal

Pedro Gonçalves
Former Barclays chairman 'not aware' of £280m Qatar side deal

Former Barclays chairman Marcus Agius has said he was unaware of documents detailing £280m worth of payments to the bank's Qatari investors in 2008  that is now at the heart of a criminal trial, a court heard.

Agius, who was chairman of Barclays from 2007 to 2012, gave evidence as part of a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) case against four former Barclays executives who are accused of misleading investors over the true level of fees paid to Qatar in 2008 in exchange for multibillion pound investments that saved the bank from a bailout.

Former Barclays chief executive John Varley and some of his most senior former colleagues - Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath - are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation over side deals struck with Qatar during an 11 billion pound-plus emergency fundraising over a decade ago.

“Not only did I not see the document, I was not aware of its existence”

Agius was asked by Ed Brown QC if he was aware of an advisory service agreement (ASA) that was struck with Qatar alongside a £2bn ($1.5bn) investment in October 2008.

"Absolutely not," Agius said. "I saw this document for the first time some years after," adding that he saw it first in 2012.

"Not only did I not see the document, I was not aware of its existence," Agius told the jury at Southwark Crown Court.

The SFO, which investigates and prosecutes crimes involving financial wrongdoing, claims  the executives put together two advisory services agreements in order to disguise Qatar's demand for larger commission payments.

Qatari investors plowed around  £4bn into Barclays during two fund raisings at the height of the credit crisis in 2008 that allowed the bank to avoid a state bailout. The prosecution has previously alleged that the Qataris asked for higher commission fees because they knew Barclays "desperately" needed the money to survive.

The former executives - the most senior bankers to face a jury trial in Britain over credit crisis-era conduct - deny wrongdoing. The trial, which may last up to six months, continues.