Jes Staley has had a rough couple months. First he got caught in the middle of a transatlantic vigilante mission against a whistleblower who'd caused him offense. This irked regulators. Then he became patient zero in the U.K. email hoaxer's crusade to cause slight embarrassment to every major bank CEO with an email address. Staley's also not exactly on speaking terms with the private equity firm KKR, a major Barclays client, due to his untoward interference in a deal involving his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, investors remain impatient for Staley to make Barclays great again.
But as the big news hit Tuesday – that Britain's Serious Fraud Office would take the extraordinary step of charging Barclays and four of its former executives with fraud for lying to investors during a 2008 fundraising involving Qatar and some mysterious advisory fees – Staley breathed a sigh of relief: Finally, everything is not his fault. Just some of the things.
Of course, Staley's doing or not, the Qatar affair still represents one more in a seemingly ceaselesscascade of shitstorms that Barclays management has had to weather of late, both of their own making and that of their predecessors. There's no word yet on how vigorously the bank plans to object. “Barclays is considering its position in relation to these developments,” read a statement. Furthermore: “The SFO has informed Barclays that it has not made a decision as to whether it will also bring charges against Barclays Bank PLC in respect of the Loan.”
Former executives charged include John Varley, who was CEO, as well as Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath.
The gist of the accusations is that in 2008, pressed to raise capital amid apocalyptic credit conditions, Barclays hammered out a deal with Qatar's ministry of finance to pay some £300 million for advisory services and extend a $3 billion loan facility in exchange – allegedly – for a £12bn capital infusion from Qatar. That would be a problem if the payments to Qatar lacked proper disclosure and/or constituted an inducement for Qatar to prop up Barclays.
Anyway, cheers to Jes.