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SFO brings charges against bankers

Tom Fox | July 3, 2017

While there is still yet to be a major banking figure brought to trial over the worldwide banking meltdown from the 2008 financial crisis, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) recently brought charges against four former executives from Barclays. Reports indicate the SFO is accusing the bank and four of its former senior staff of lying, or not fully disclosing to the market what it was paying Qatari investors as they were putting up over £12bn into Barclays to stave off a UK government bailout.

The criminal focus is around an “advisory service agreement” the bank struck with Qatar at the time of the fundraisings in 2008. The first cash call and original advisory service agreement was in June of that year and the second deal in October then extended the agreement. The ASA in total pledged £322m ($406MM) to Qatar in exchange for helping to develop Barclays’ services in the region. This led to Qatar investing £4.1bn ($5.1bn) into Barclays, by purchasing the bank’s ordinary shares. In October, Qatar invested another £7.3bn ($9.21bn) in the bank. In October and in addition to the money pledged by Barclays to Qatar in the advisory service agreement, the bank loaned Qatar’s ministry of finance $2.3bn ($2.90bn) just as the October deal was closing.

The Man From FCPA can only wonder why it was the SFO which has brought the only prosecution against financial institutions around for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. While the criticism leveled in Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin are well known, a new book to be released in the United States this month basically says most U.S. prosecutors are gun shy about bringing large, complex white-collar criminal actions against senior corporate executives. We are now coming up on nearly two years since the Justice Department issued the Yates Memo, requiring companies to turn over their findings on culpable individuals, including senior executives. At least in the FCPA white-collar criminal world, not much seems to have changed.