Cleared former Barclays head to give evidence in London Qatar trial

Financier Amanda Staveley is bringing a £1.6bn claim against the bank over ‘secret’ commissions

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: The former chief executive of Barclays John Varley arrives at Southwark Crown Court on March 4, 2019 in London, England. The trial against Mr Varley who is on trial for fraud, and three other former top executives at Barclays Bank is the first heard by a U.K. jury against a top banker in connection with the financial crisis in 2008. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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Barclays Bank’s former chief executive is set to give evidence in a £1.6 billion (Dh7.15bn) legal battle over “secret” payments to Qatar – a year after he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing connected to the 2008 deal.

John Varley, who led Barclays from 2004 to 2010, is due to appear as a witness on behalf of the bank in a legal claim brought by financier Amanda Staveley.

Ms Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners says the bank lied to other Gulf investors about larger commission payments to Qatar for investments during the 2008 financial crisis that staved off a government takeover.

Barclays is defending the claim, saying Qatar was not given secret commissions but was paid extra for providing introductions and other business services.

The bank’s former investment chief for the Middle East, Roger Jenkins, is also due to give evidence in a case that is expected to start in June and run for two months.

While criminal charges against Mr Varley were dropped in 2019 because of insufficient evidence, Mr Jenkins stood trial with two other senior bankers following a complex, eight-year investigation by the UK agency, which prosecutes white-collar crime.

They were accused of involvement in a plot to funnel £322 million in secret payments to Qatar in return for £4bn of rescue funding. The three men were all acquitted in February of fraud, clearing the way for the delayed civil case to go ahead.

Mr Varley and Mr Jenkins played key roles in negotiations with Qatar, then headed by Sheikh Hamad Al Thani.

The two men and Ms Staveley are all due to give evidence in person at London’s High Court, a judge was told on Friday at a hearing conducted through Skype because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Justice Waksman said a decision on who could give evidence through video would be made closer to the trial.