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Qatar pressured Barclays bosses to mask PM’s holdings, UK court told

LONDON: Qatari officials put pressure on Barclays officials to mask the former prime minister of the Gulf state’s planned holding in the bank, a London court heard on Monday.

A high-profile legal case in London centers on allegations that four former executives from Barclays conspired to commit fraud by false representations when Barclays raised more than £11 billion ($14 billion) from investors in 2008.

Prosecutors allege the bankers hid from public documents around £322 million in secret fees paid to the Qatari investors as they fought to meet their tough demands.

As part of the ongoing case, prosecutors for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office on Monday presented internal emails and phone calls to the jury, The Guardian reported.

The documents detailed discussions on how Barclays might disclose Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani’s planned stake in the bank via Challenger, his British Virgin Islands (BVI)-based investment vehicle.

In a phone call played to the jury Richard Boath, the bank’s former European financial institutions boss, recalled how Sheikh Hamad told the bank’s executives that “he’d like his family to have some shares in Barclays.”

In one email, Boath said he was told that Sheikh Hamad “wants to have a very low profile” and “would prefer that HE’s BVI-based investment vehicle be our fifth investor and sign its own subscription agreement,” The Guardian reported.

In the email exchange with the Qataris’ head of legal, Ahmad Al-Sayad, Boath noted that “we would be required to disclose the identity of this vehicle,” the court heard. Al-Sayad responded that Barclays “should find a way to finesse this in order to keep HE under the radar.”
The four ex-Barclays employees have all denied the charges against them in the trail, which is expected to last up to six months.

Prosecutors have not accused Qatar or officials from that country of wrongdoing.

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