So, the prosecution of senior executives in Barclays, the only criminal case to arise in the 2008 fiscal wreck, was bound for a high-profile evaluation.
The background to the situation is that in 2008, while some other UK banks have been bailed from the UK Treasury, Barclays instead acquired investment from several sources, such as entities linked to the Qatari authorities. Even though the commissions it paid for all those investments were put, on paper, in 1.5 percent, the Qataris were insistent on getting 3.25 percent, and Barclays’ standing position was bad. Obtaining a commission in the level would have alerted the markets and needed it to cover the identical commission to additional investors.
Rather than this, Barclays’ executives negotiated, along with a committee of its board then signed, two arrangements by that it might cover the Qataris large additional amounts in return for widely described services. The SFO said those arrangements were unethical, on the premise that there weren’t any such solutions, which this fact was called to the executives who negotiated the offer.
Among the recurring problems using SFO prosecutions is that the problem with ascribing guilt under English law to businesses. Following a contentious flirtation with civil obligations, the SFO changed its sights into lobbying for new legislation to broaden corporate accountability, and the usage of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs). It was striking that in this circumstance, together with Barclays’ refusal of wrongdoing judgment out a DPA, the SFO decided to prosecute not just the executives but also the company itself.
The difficulty was that, although the executives were granted the ability to negotiate the arrangements, it wasn’t they but the committee, about whom the SFO had no complaints, which could complete them. That meant that the executives weren’t the”directing mind and will” of Barclays for all these functions, and thus the business couldn’t be convicted concerning their frame of mind.
Further legal wrangles ensued, the net outcome of that was that the case has been dismissed from one of those executives because of the absence of proof of dishonesty. On the way, there have been many sayings of judicial skepticism regarding the potency of the SFO’s instance, which also shifted considerably even throughout this trial. Among the recurring problems has been its standing about the Qataris, who it diminished to the state were dishonest. Another was that the function of Barclays’ attorneys, who had effectively approved the arrangements, subject only to a premise that the Qataris were providing solutions of some worth.
The outcome, after years of effort and weeks from the court, was possibly surprising just in the absolute speed with which the jury returned not guilty verdicts. How, they may have asked, is it appropriate to send these guys to jail for negotiating arrangements with valid counterparties, where attorneys had informed, and Barclays had institutionally approved?
The simple fact that the SFO nevertheless persisted could be considered a positive, because they independently chased a noble origin, notwithstanding the issues. Surely, it wouldn’t be simple to envision another enforcement agency handling a better job in this circumstance, and the worth of experts in this region shouldn’t be underestimated — however, as has ever been noticed, it’s made to work with quite limited funds.
An alternate perspective is the outcome indicates the SFO might usefully have paid more attention to all those judicial remarks and reverses earlier in the situation, which its dogged pursuit of those men may betray a step of institutional hubris. While that could be unduly harsh, there are lessons to be learned from this situation. For good or ill, it surely reflects a service whose achievement looks unnaturally to exceed its grasp.