Barclays and four former top bankers, including ex-boss John Varley, have been charged with fraud over side-deals struck during the bank’s emergency fundraising at the height of the financial crisis.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it had brought charges of conspiracy to commit fraud against the bank itself as well as ex-chief executive Mr Varley, Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris and Richard Boath after a five-year investigation into the events surrounding its cash call in 2008.
It marks the first criminal charges to be brought in the UK against a bank and its former executives for activities during the financial crisis.
The SFO said the charges relate to the bank’s emergency fundraising from Qatari investors as the group sought to avoid a government bailout amid the banking sector meltdown.
Qatari investors - the state-backed Qatar Holding and Challenger Universal - pumped £6.1 billion into Barclays during two fundraisings in June and October 2008.
In November that year, Barclays agreed to issue a $3bn (£2.4bn) loan made available to the State of Qatar.
The bank, 61-year-old Mr Varley, Mr Jenkins, also 61, and their two former colleagues Mr Kalaris, 61, and Mr Boath, 58, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud over the June 2008 fundraising.
The bank, Mr Varley and Mr Jenkins face the same charge relating to the second fundraising in October 2008, while they have also been charged with providing unlawful financial assistance.
The defendants and a bank representative will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 3.
Mr Varley, who was chief executive between 2004 and 2011, headed the bank at the time of the fundraising, while Mr Jenkins is also said to have played a key role in orchestrating the deal.
Mr Kalaris used to lead the bank’s wealth and investment management division, while Mr Boath was the former European head of financial institutions group at Barclays.
Barclays said it is “considering its position in relation to these developments”.
It added: “Barclays awaits further details of the charges from the SFO.”