SFO to press Barclays over £7bn fundraising in private hearing


A private hearing is to take place in December in which the Serious Fraud Office is thought to be pressing ahead with seeking legal documents from Barclays as part of its ongoing investigation into the bank’s 2008 rescue fundraising.

The hearing can be revealed after reporting restrictions were lifted by Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith, following representations by the Guardian and other publications.

The Guardian reports that the judge gave no reason why the restrictions had been imposed or why he had lifted them.

As the case is taking place in private, the discussions between the SFO and Barclays will still not be reported when the hearing takes place.

But, in lifting the restrictions, the judge allowed three elements to be reported: that there is a hearing in December where the SFO is applying for access to evidence held by Barclays, that the hearing is taking place in private, and that the bank is defending the application on the basis that the material sought is covered by legal professional privilege.

The SFO is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the way more than £7bn was raised by Barclays during the banking crisis. The bank admitted in September 2013 that it was fighting a £50m fine by the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in relation to the matter.

Barclays, which continues to contest the allegations, said at the time it had been issued with a formal warning notice from the FCA, which has warned the bank that it “acted recklessly” in the way it disclosed information about £322m of fees paid to Qatar Holdings during the fundraising.

In so doing, the regulator said it had breached some of the rules governing the way shares are listed on the stock exchange.

The Guardian led the legal challenge to the reporting restriction which was brought along with the Financial Times, Bloomberg, the Times and the Daily Telegraph.

Barclays said it “does not comment on ongoing legal matters”. The SFO said it was not able to provide any information in addition to that provided.