United Kingdom steps up charges against Barclays over Qatar financing

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The SFO announced in a statement today that it had charged Barclays Bank "with unlawful financial assistance" in relation to a $3-billion loan the lender secured for Qatar Holding between October 1 and November 30, 2008, for the objective of acquiring shares in the blue-chip group.

When the charges were announced previous year, the SFO had still to take a decision on whether to charge Barclays Bank PLC, the main operating unit, but has pushed ahead this month.

In response, Barclays said: "Barclays PLC and Barclays Bank PLC intend to defend the respective charges brought against them".

After a five-year investigation into the events surrounding the cash call, the SFO last summer brought charges of conspiracy to commit fraud against Barclays itself, as well as a string of former executives.

Barclays' (BARC.L) legal problems deepened on Monday when Britain's Serious Fraud Office charged its operating subsidiary with providing unlawful financial assistance to Qatari investors during the banking crisis a decade ago.

It will be the first time that a British bank has faced a criminal trial over its conduct during the financial crisis.

The charges centre on investments secured from Qatari investors in 2008 as the banking sector went into meltdown.

That included a $3bn loan made to the State of Qatar acting through the Ministry of Economy and Finance in November 2008.

"Barclays does not expect there to be an impact on its ability to serve its customers and clients as a effect of the charge having been brought", the bank said in a statement.

The SFO opened an investigation into the deal in 2012 and has since charged several former executives and Barclays Plc over the fundraising.

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