Fraud fighting agency the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) suffered a setback this morning when the Crown court dismissed charges against Barclays bank after a five-year investigation. 

R v Barclays plc , Barclays Bank plc, John Varley, Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris and Richard Boath, listed at Southwark Crown court, concerned allegations over the raising of emergency capital by Barclays at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. 

In a statement this morning, Barclays announced that, following an application by the bank, the court had dismissed charges against holding company Barclays plc and operating subsidiary Barclays Bank plc. They were:

  • Charges against Barclays plc of two offences of conspiring with certain former senior officers and employees of Barclays to commit fraud by false representations relating to two advisory services agreements entered into with Qatar Holding LLC in June and October 2008; and
  • Charges against Barclays plc and Barclays Bank plc each of one offence of unlawful financial assistance in relation to a $3bn loan provided to the state of Qatar in 2008.

The statement added that 'The SFO is likely to seek to re-instate these charges by applying to a High Court judge to re-commence proceedings via a new indictment of the same charges.'

An SFO spokesperson said: 'We are considering our position in respect of today’s ruling concerning the companies.'

Barclays is also defending a civil suit brought by PCP Capital Partners LLP and PCP International Finance Limited in relation to the November 2008 capital raising.

Andrew Katzen, partner at Hickman and Rose, commented: 'The SFO’s most high profile prosecution has fallen at the first hurdle, but Barclays isn’t off the hook yet. The SFO is almost certain to seek to continue the prosecution by applying to the High Court to issue what is called a voluntary bill of indictment. 

'Nevertheless, the ruling makes for an inauspicious start for the prosecutor as it awaits its new director.'