A landmark case in London could potentially imprison one of the highest-level banking executives ever charged in relation to the 2008 financial crisis.
Proceedings officially begin on Monday for the trial of Barclays CEO John Varley, who is charged with fraud. The trial, still in its early stages, is part of the UK’s first set of criminal cases pursuing senior bankers for crisis-era events.
The Financial Times reported that Varley is one of four defendants facing charges related to the bank’s arrangements with Middle Eastern investors in the wake of the crisis. In a bid to avoid being part of the British government’s bailout effort — which would have made the bank look weak — Barclays reached out to investors to secure independent financing worth £11.8 billion ($15.5 billion), with £6.1 billion coming from Qatar. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleges that some £300 million was spent by the bankers to induce the investment from Qatar, which was not fully disclosed to the market or other investors. The four defendants all deny the charges, which carry a 10-year maximum sentence.
After six years and interviews with at least 40 people, the case is heading to trial.
The case is a landmark moment for the SFO, which recently made personnel changes to ensure the flagship case made it to trial after its general counsel quit the watchdog for a law firm.