Barclays bosses openly celebrated a services deal struck with Qatar in 2008 that was “entirely separate” to its multibillion-pound rescue package and did not disadvantage other investors, a court heard on Wednesday.
Glenn Leighton, a former director at Barclays’ financial institutions group, was the second witness to give evidence during the landmark trial linked to the bank’s crisis-era fundraising, and the first to be cross-examined by the defence.
He faced questions on Wednesday by both prosecutors for the Serious Fraud Office and William Boyce QC, defence lawyer for Barclays’ ex-European financial institutions head, Richard Boath.
Boyce asked whether Leighton understood at the time that the advisory services agreement struck with Qatar – which is at the centre of the criminal trial – was in exchange for assistance gaining a foothold for its business in the Middle East. “Yes,” Leighton replied.
The former Barclays employee, who reported directly to Boath in 2008, told the jury that future business was aided by the deal, including projects he was personally involved in across Bahrain and Kuwait. “Part of our success in winning those transactions came from the fact that we had our own shareholder pushing for Barclays to be involved,” he told the court.
The Serious Fraud Office alleges four former Barclays executives – Richard Boath, John Varley, Roger Jenkins and Tom Kalaris – lied to the stock market and other investors about how £322m in fees were paid to Qatar in relation to emergency fundraising of more than £11bn in 2008.
Prosecutors say the executives put together two advisory services agreements (ASAs) in order to disguise Qatar’s demand for larger commission payments.
All four men have denied the charges.
On Tuesday Boyce compared the advisory services deal to memorandums of understanding that Barclays had arranged with Japanese and Chinese investors at the time. Boyce said they “all wanted extras, and the extras were dealt with in different ways, without affecting the level playing field for everyone else”.
“Yes, that’s right,” Leighton said.
The jury was also read transcripts of Leighton’s interviews with both the FCA and SFO, which were part of investigations into the Qatar deal. Leighton was quoted as saying the “advisory services agreement was entirely separate to the best of my knowledge at the time”, according to statements read by Boyce.
The defence lawyer also highlighted that executives were celebrating the deal. Boyce said the ASA was “something that caused the bank to blow its trumpet, and broadcast as loudly as it could … we want the whole world to know about it because it’s so good for us, so good for the bank.”
“Yes that’s right,” Leighton said.