Ex-Barclays chiefs face Serious Fraud Office probe over Qatari fundraising

Two former Barclays chief executives are among 12 ex-employees being interviewed under caution by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in connection with the lender’s Qatari fundraising in 2008.

John Varley and Bob Diamond, the past two chief executives, will be interviewed alongside former finance director Chris Lucas and Roger Jenkins, who headed the bank’s now-closed tax advisory business and was its Middle East specialist, as well as eight others.

Barclays’ fundraising meant it was able to escape a government bailout during the financial crisis. It proved controversial with other investors because of the generous terms offered to investors from Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

Some of the interviews — which mark an escalation in the probe — have already taken place, but not those involving either Diamond  or Varley, according to the Financial Times.

Neither Barclays, which last week announced plans to slash costs and slim down its investment bank, or the SFO would comment.

Diamond, who was running Barclays’ investment bank in 2008, was in New York at the time of the fundraising working on acquiring Lehman Brothers.

He denies any wrongdoing. His spokesman said: “Mr Diamond will continue to assist wherever he can on anything related to Barclays, but he is unable to comment on any specific inquiry. He is very proud of his tenure at the bank.”

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