Robert Rhodes QC for Al Jazeera: “Barclays Bank at risk of losing its licence”
Last Monday, Al Jazeera interviewed Robert Rhodes QC about the Serious Fraud Office’s charging of Barclays Bank Ltd for unlawful financial assistance relating to transactions with Qatar in October 2008. The holding company, Barclays Bank plc, was also charged last summer, along with four former senior executives (Robert had an article published about that in Times).
The charge relates to Barclays’ October 2008 loan of £2.3bn to Qatar Holdings, its payment to Qatar Holdings of £323m for advisory services, and the purchase by Qatar Holdings of c. £12bn Barclays shares.
Robert pointed out that, during the banking crisis a decade ago, the British government had to invest over £1tn into UK banks. He said that Barclays managed to avoid going to the government for assistance and it had its own fundraising methods. In 2008 it raised £12bn, through Qatar and the Middle East generally. In October 2008, Barclays lent Qatar Holdings $3bn and paid Qatar Holdings over £300m for advisory services. Robert said that the SFO claimed that this was unlawful financial assistance, suggesting that “this money went round in a circle simply to prop-up its [Barclays’] own share price“.
Robert’s view is that, if convicted, Barclays Bank would theoretically be at risk of losing his licence. However, he felt this was unlikely, since the events were ten years ago, there had been several changes of management since, and many banks have been convicted of very serious offences in the USA but haven’t lost their licences. Robert also pointed out the financial risks to pensioners and small shareholders as a result of there being a likely cut in dividend were Barclays to be convicted and heavily fined.
The interview clip is available to download here.
Barristers: Robert Rhodes QC