Qatar ramped up demands over Barclays investment
Barclays needed Qatar to invest billions to prevent government bailout during financial crisis
Qatar ramped up fee demands for a multi-billion-pound investment in UK bank Barclays just 11 days after meeting the lender’s embattled chief executive to discuss the deal, a fraud trial of three senior Barclays bankers heard on Tuesday.
Dr Hussain Al Abdullah, a senior executive at the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), told three startled bankers during the meeting in his suite at London’s Claridge’s Hotel that he wanted to more than double commission rates for investing up to £3 billion.
London’s Old Bailey has heard that the investment was essential to keep the bank out of UK government control during the 2008 global financial crisis. The three bankers are accused of fraud for allegedly duping other potential investors about secret payments to Qatar to cover the higher commission costs and ensure that the emirate invested in Barclays.
Roger Jenkins, the former head of investment banking in the Middle East, told the court that Qatar’s financial demands during the June 3, 2008 meeting “manifestly didn’t make sense”.
“It was a surprising ask on his side… the size of it,” he told the court. “I was a little taken aback.
“I had a relationship with the doctor that we didn’t leave with stony faces. We left with a degree of humour, maybe we could work our way through it.”
The meeting at Claridge’s was part of a concerted effort by Barclays to woo Qatar and other major international investors but the court heard that then prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, was driving a hard bargain.
The bank’s chief executive, John Varley, joined a Barclays delegation to see Sheikh Hamad on May 23 to try to secure a deal. But their optimism swiftly diminished after the Qataris delayed making a firm commitment to invest on the terms they discussed.
The bank had struggled to make a breakthrough with other Middle East sovereign wealth funds and had focused on the QIA and Sheikh Hamad who wanted to be the bank’s “special Gulf guy”, the court heard on Monday during evidence by Mr Jenkins, one of the three men on trial.
Qatar eventually invested £4bn in the bank, part of an £11.2bn fundraising that secured the bank’s future outside of government control, a fate suffered by other lenders, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Mr Jenkins, Tom Kalaris, the former head of wealth management, and Richard Boath, the ex-head of head of financial services, all deny fraud.
Updated: November 26, 2019 09:29 PM