Barclays bank and four of its former senior staff have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office with conspiracy to commit fraud and the provision of unlawful financial assistance, in the biggest case since the credit crunch. The former bankers include Barclays’ former chief executive John Varley.
The move comes after a five-year investigation into the bank’s £11.8bn emergency fundraising at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, when it raised billions of pounds from Qatar.
John Varley, 61, is viewed as the archetypal patrician British banker. He was the first bank boss to apologise during the financial crisis, and was proud of steering Barclays through the crisis without need for a government bailout.
Having graduated from Oxford with a first class degree in history, Varley started out as a solicitor before joining Barclays in 1982 to help set up its investment banking operation. He spent his entire working life at the bank and married Carolyn, the daughter of Sir Richard Thorn Pease, a member of the Quaker family behind the eponymous bank that became part of Barclays in 1902.
A City gent, who habitually wears high-waisted trousers and red braces, Varley became Barclays’ finance director in 2000 and chief executive in 2004. He lost out to Royal Bank of Scotland in a battle to buy Dutch lender ABN Amro – which turned out to be toxic – but snapped up the US assets of the collapsed Lehman Brothers.
He then sold Barclays’ asset management arm and oversaw two share issues to raise capital from the royal families of Qatar and Abu Dhabi. After handing over to Bob Diamond in 2011, Varley retired to Hampshire, but still sits on the board of US fund manager BlackRock, and is chairman of Marie Curie Cancer Care. He was also a director of global mining group Rio Tinto until the fraud charges were announced, when he quit with immediate effect.
Roger Jenkins, 61, was once Britain’s highest-paid banker earning up to £40m a year. The former Barclays head of investment banking and investment management in the Middle East was credited with finding the investors who helped the bank escape a taxpayer bailout.
He joined as a graduate trainee in 1978 and was the driving force behind Barclays’ controversial tax advisory business, which was subsequently wound down. Educated at Edinburgh Academy, Jenkins went on to study economics at Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh and in his youth was a sprinter who represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games.
Jenkins lives in Malibu, California, with his wife Diana, a fundraising entrepreneur and socialite. After leaving Barclays in 2009, he set up his own advisory firm in Dublin, Elkstone Capital, which closed in 2011. He then joined Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual as a managing partner.
In January, the former head of Barclays’ wealth division, 61, recruited several bankers from his old firm for his new wealth advisory firm Saranac Partners. He started the business last summer, with backing from Aberdeen Asset Management and a number of big-name bankers.
The former JP Morgan bond trader joined Barclays in 1996 and was a loyal lieutenant of Bob Diamond, who took over from John Varley as Barclays chief executive. Diamond resigned after the Libor-rigging scandal in 2012.
The American banker, who was educated in Pennsylvania and Chicago, ran Barclays’s wealth management division between 2009 and 2013. He quickly built the amount of wealth under management, catapulting the division into the global top league, but the unit’s culture in the US was criticised in an independent report in 2013. He was one of the highest-paid bankers at Barclays, earning £7.8m in 2010.
Richard Boath, 58, who worked for Barclays for 15 years and was head of the bank’s European financial institutions group until last year, has since brought a claim to an employment tribunal. He claimed he was unfairly dismissed after the SFO shared with his employer a 900-page transcript of interviews he gave to criminal investigators probing the bank.
Boath said on Tuesday: “The SFO’s decision to charge me is based on a false understanding of my role and the facts. I have cooperated fully with the SFO and FCA throughout their investigations. The evidence I have supplied is very clear: there is no case for me to answer. I will contest these charges vigorously.”
His LinkedIn profile lists him as a self-employed consultant. He holds a BA in management science from the University of Manchester.