Barclays Recording of Qatar Fees Was ‘Sloppy,’ Former Executive Reveals


(Bloomberg) —Former Barclays Plc executive Roger Jenkins said the bank’s record-keeping of revenue it generated from two advisory agreements with Qatar was “slow and sloppy,” but denied U.K. prosecutors’ allegations that the arrangements were fake.

Jenkins made the remarks in a London court on Monday, as cross-examination by a Serious Fraud Office lawyer entered its second week. Jenkins and two former colleagues are accused of using the so-called Advisory Services Agreements, or ASAs, as a disguise to pay 322 million pounds ($418 million) in investment commissions to Qatar.

The Gulf state demanded the extra fees before investing 4 billion pounds into Barclays that would help the bank avoid a U.K. government bailout. Jenkins said that while the ASAs were signed in conjunction with the capital raising, they represented a genuine arrangement allowing Barclays to win further business. The SFO says that the fees should have been declared to shareholders. Jenkins and the other two defendants, Richard Boath and Tom Kalaris, deny the charges.

Jenkins, as former Middle East investment banking head, said he negotiated the deals with Qatar’s then-Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani. He said he was the “gatekeeper” for the relationship and ensured that only deals which would also be in the interest of Qatar would be put before its sovereign-wealth fund.

“That’s why you need a gatekeeper,” Jenkins said. “So, you’re not just following a throwing-spaghetti-against-the-wall approach. Otherwise they’ll just roll you out like a car salesman, no offense to any car salesman.“

Prosecutor Ed Brown gave details on some of the internal Barclays documents and emails relating to business won from Qatar following the ASAs signed in June and October 2008. Brown argued that the bank’s lawyers had warned Jenkins and other executives to make sure they got enough value from the arrangement.

“The ball was put firmly in the bankers’ court and it was the implementation that they warned you and especially Mr. Boath about, do you agree?” Brown asked Jenkins. “There’s no audit being done. How on earth would you know at the end of each of those two periods whether you’ve thrown away or benefited to the tune of 322 million pounds or more?“

Jenkins blamed the lack of documentation on the still-raging financial crisis, saying the bank could only later could focus on a “box-ticking” exercise. He also criticized Brown for solely looking at the period ending in October 2009, even though the ASAs ran for three and five years.

“You need to monitor the services you get,“ Jenkins said. “We were quite slow and sloppy with that. That doesn’t change whether it was genuine or not, but it was sloppy until December.”

Brown, who will continue questioning Jenkins on Tuesday, said the defendants were aware of their obligation to report the fees to shareholders in the prospectuses for the fundraising. Jenkins said that this would’ve been a responsibility of the board members who had been involved in the transactions and familiar with its details.

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