Former leading bankers at Barclays faced questions in court yesterday over how concerns about their own pay packets may have affected their decisions during the financial crisis.
The Times reports that Southwark Crown Court heard allegations that Roger Jenkins, the bank’s ex-Middle East chairman, worried late at night about how a government bailout package would affect his remuneration.
Unlike peers like Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, Barclays was able to raise sufficient funds from investors to avoid a government bailout.
Three other ex-Barclays bankers – former chief executive John Varley, former wealth division chief executive Tom Kalaris, and former European division head Richard Boath – are also on trial over conspiracy to commit fraud charges.
The charges relate to accusations they hid more than £300m in commissions paid to investors from Qatar in exchange for rescue funds from the Gulf state amounting to around £4bn when the crisis hit ten years ago.
The Times reports the jury heard that Jenkins was recorded in a phone call to colleagues saying: “At 2 o’clock in the morning I was panicking that we were about to get nationalised and you guys must have been the same because the government…wouldn’t look kindly on compensation over a million dollars.”
Prosecution QC Edward Brown added that, as Barclays sought to avoid a government takeover, the quartet would have been “highly motivated to keep their jobs”, and their concerns over the government potentially limiting dividends, senior pay or management control were borne out in board meeting minutes.
The Barclays staff deny the charges, and there have not been any allegations of wrongdoing against Qataris.