Serious Fraud Office in secret legal battle with Barclays

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The Serious Fraud Office wants Barclays to hand over evidence as part of the agency’s criminal investigation into the bank’s £5.8bn cash call during the financial crisis.

The Financial Times says reporting restrictions were lifted yesterday on a secret court hearing which is to decide whether Barclays must hand over evidence into its 2008 fundraising.

The two-day hearing was held in July at Southwark Crown Court, but the media was banned from attending and reporting. A further hearing between the SFO and Barclays will be held in private in December.

The SFO is investigating allegations that Barclays covertly lent Qatari investors money that was then used as part of the cash call.

Barclays argues the evidence the SFO has requested is covered by legal privilege.

Two of the bank’s in-house lawyers have been interviewed under caution. No charges have been filed.

So far around a dozen former and current Barclays employees have been interviewed under caution as part of the case, including former chief executives John Varley and Bob Diamond.

The SFO and Barclays declined to comment to the newspaper.