Barclays, Staveley spar in final lap of London trial

FILE PHOTO: A Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London
FILE PHOTO: A Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

October 16, 2020

By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) – A bitter High Court clash between Barclays <BARC.L> and British businesswoman Amanda Staveley, over whether she was deceived while negotiating a financial lifeline for the bank at the height of the credit crisis, draws to a close on Friday.

Staveley is claiming hundreds of millions of pounds in damages from Barclays in a civil case that kicked off in June and hinges on how the bank secured emergency funds from Qatar and Abu Dhabi and averted a state bailout in October 2008.

Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners, which led a 3.25 billion pound ($4.2 billion), Abu Dhabi-backed investment, alleges it was induced to fund Barclays on much worse terms than Qatar — despite assurances it would get the same deal.

PCP, which reduced its maximum damages claim to 836 million pounds from 1.5 billion during the trial, alleges Barclays paid Qatar 346 million pounds in secret fees and handed the Gulf state a $3 billion loan that almost matched Qatar’s investment.

Qatar said after the February fraud trial that two additional services agreements with Barclays, agreed in June and October 2008, were genuine.

Had PCP been aware of these “very sweet” terms, it would have sought a better deal, it alleged.

The case turned the spotlight back on Barclays’ arrangements with Qatar four months after three senior bank executives were acquitted of fraud in a criminal case over advisory service agreements it struck with the Gulf nation in 2008.

Barclays alleged it had struck separate, commercial agreements with Qatar and that PCP’s case was “wrong at every stage”.

Testifying during the trial, Barclays’ former top rainmaker Roger Jenkins accepted he might have used the words “same deal” to Staveley, but said he would have intended to refer to Qatar subscribing for the same instruments.

After a dispute about whether PCP was a potential investor or merely an advisor to Abu Dhabi, Barclays noted Staveley may have hoped to participate as a principal — but alleged she did not suffer a loss due to Barclays’ actions.

The bank said PCP was paid a “handsome” 30 million pounds by Abu Dhabi and attacked Staveley as a “thoroughly unreliable witness”, who used “embellishment and invention” and whose modus operandi was to “duck and weave”.

Twelve years ago, bankers used sexist and demeaning language when discussing the financier and criticised her professional competence. Apologising, one resigned as a senior bank lobbyist in June before the comments were aired.

Nevertheless, the bank relied on the then 34-year-old to bring on board Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan to help secure its independent future.

A judgment is expected later.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)