Thursday, August 30, 2012
Barclays Under U.K. Criminal Investigation Over Qatar Payments
Thu., August 30, 2012
Barclays Plc (BARC) faces a criminal probe into fees it paid in 2008 to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund as the bank sought to raise money to avoid a government bailout, Bloomberg reported. The Serious Fraud Office, which prosecutes bribery and white-collar crime, told the London-based bank it has “commenced an investigation into payments under certain commercial agreements between Barclays and Qatar Holding LLC,” the lender said in a statement today. The investigation is another legal pitfall for Britain’s second-biggest lender by assets after it paid U.S. and U.K. authorities a record 290 million pounds ($459 million) in June for manipulating the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and related interest benchmarks. The case led to the resignations of three top Barclays executives, including Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond. “It’s an uncomfortable regulatory environment right now,” Sara George, a financial regulation lawyer at Stephenson Harwood LLP in London, said in a telephone interview today. “The public appetite for these kind of actions has never been stronger.” Prosecutors are working with the U.K. Financial Services Authority, Britain’s finance regulator, which is conducting a civil investigation into whether the bank adequately disclosed fees it agreed to pay the Qatar Investment Authority.