LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said on Thursday that Barclays (BARC.L) and its former senior bankers will not know until around mid-June whether they face criminal charges over a 2008 emergency fundraising from Qatar.
The SFO has already delayed a charging decision from the end of March to the end of May in the only UK criminal investigation from the financial crisis period in which senior bankers face possible criminal charges.
The SFO’s investigation centers on commercial agreements between Barclays and Qatari investors as part of a total 12 billion pound ($15 billion) fundraising at the height of the credit crisis, which allowed the bank to avoid a state bailout.
Barclays did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The inquiry is one of several legal issues inherited by Barclays’s current Chief Executive Jes Staley that date back to the credit crisis.
The bank already faces a proposed fine of around 50 million pounds for being “reckless” after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it did not disclose all “advisory services agreements” to Qatar, although that inquiry is ongoing.
The bank is also being sued for $1.0 billion in damages by Amanda Staveley, a British businesswoman with Gulf connections, over whether all Gulf investors received the same terms in 2008, a case Barclays has called “misconceived”.
Simultaneously it is contesting a high-profile unfair dismissal for a whistleblowing case.
One of the bank’s former most senior investment bankers Richard Boath, who cooperated with the SFO in its investigation, alleges he was fired “as a direct result” of what he told investigators when questioned as part of their criminal inquiry.
The case has been adjourned to later in the year.
Barclays denies any wrongdoing.
The Qatar investigation is also highly-charged politically ahead of a national election on June 8. Qatari investors have not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the Gulf state is a key investor in Britain as the country prepares to extricate itself from the European Union.
Britain’s ruling Conservative Party has also pledged to scrap the SFO and roll it into a broader crime-fighting body if it wins the election.
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by Susan Thomas