LONDON – Shares in Barclays opened only slightly lower on Tuesday after the UK’s Serious Fraud Office announced criminal charges against the bank and four former executives.
Former Barclays CEO John Varley is among those facing charges relating to the bank’s private bailout from Qatar at the height of the financial crisis. Qatari investors backed the bank’s £4.5 billion cash call in 2008 but were also given a $3 billion loan facility by the bank at the same time, an arrangement that the SFO contends is unlawful.
The bank and four former execs are charged with “conspiracy to commit fraud and the provision of unlawful financial assistance.” It’s the first time a bank or its executives have faced criminal charges for events that took place during the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite this, Barclays shares opened down just 0.27% in London on Tuesday in reaction to the news, hitting 205.55p.
While news of the SFO charges is bad for Barclays, it is not unexpected. Reports that the SFO was set to deliver its verdict were trailed over the last week, with sources at the bank telling the Telegraph on Monday that they expected charges to be brought.
Barclays said in a statement that it is “is considering its position in relation to these developments.”