The trial judge in the ongoing Barclays case about secret payments in the wake of the 2008 financial crash has instructed the jury that, according to the prosecution’s argument, the implicated Qatari entities are as dishonest as the Barclays executives on trial.
Mr Justice Jay made his intervention in the second week of the landmark case in the Southwark Crown Court in London that has been brought by the Serious Fraud Office against former Barclays chief executive John Varley and three fellow executives.
The judge was attempting to explain the logic behind the SFO’s case which centres on an allegation that the bank made a fraudulent advisory service agreement (ASA) with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding.
The £322 million ASA was purportedly for advisory services in the Middle East but, alleges the SFO was actually a commission for more than $4 billion of emergency funding so that Barclays could avoid a taxpayer bailout.
“A sham agreement is one that does mean what it says, it requires two parties,” said the judge. “The counterparty to the ASA was a Qatari entity. The logic of the prosecution case that these defendants were dishonest must be that one or more individuals comprising or connected with the Qatari entity was equally dishonest in the criminal sense. There’s no getting around that.”
The judge also advised the jurors that in order to convict the four defendants, they must be convinced that the ASAs were shams or else they must acquit.
In contrast, the prosecuting QC for the SFO has stopped short of calling the Qatari investors dishonest and is not expected to call any of the Qatar Holding executives, which included then prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, as witnesses.
The case continues and is expected to last a number of months.
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