On 28 February 2020, a jury acquitted three former Barclays executives – Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath – of criminal fraud charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”). The charges were founded on allegations that the three had conspired to make secret payments to Qatar in exchange for the state’s provision of financial assistance to Barclays during 2008. The acquittal concludes the SFO’s investigation in the matter which began in 2012 but also, however, allowed the release of previous judgments that, among other things, shed light on the difficulties in imposing corporate criminal liability.
On 3 July 2017, the SFO charged Barclays PLC with both conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation for failing fully to disclose to the stock market deals it had reached with Qatari investors and unlawful financial assistance by providing a $3 billion loan to the Qatari state’s sovereign wealth fund. On 12 February 2018 Barclays Bank PLC also was charged with providing unlawful financial assistance. On 21 May 2018 the charges against both Barclays entities were dismissed by the Crown Court, prompting a subsequent application by the SFO to reinstate all of the charges. On 26 October 2018, the High Court dismissed the SFO’s application. Any greater understanding regarding the reasons as to why the charges were dismissed and the Court’s approach to the imposition of corporate criminal liability, however, was put on hold as both Crown Court and High Court judgments remained subject to reporting restrictions until the conclusion of the trial of the individual Barclays executives. These restrictions were lifted by Lord Justice Popplewell following the acquittal of the three executives in February 2020.