Qatar charges against Barclays dismissed

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The Crown Court has dismissed charges against Barclays Bank and its owner Barclays PLC over billions of pounds raised from Qatar in 2008.

The charges were potentially extremely serious for Barclays as, if it had been found guilty, it could have lost its banking licence.

Barclays said the Serious Fraud Office was likely to try to reinstate the charges by applying to the High Court.

Four former Barclays bankers still face charges over the Qatari investment.

In 2008, to avoid a government bailout, Barclays took a £12bn loan from Qatar Holdings, which is owned by the state of Qatar.

Under that deal Barclays loaned £2.3bn back to Qatar Holdings.

The SFO alleged that loan was used either directly, or indirectly, to buy shares in Barclays, which the SFO said was "unlawful financial assistance".

They were the first charges to be faced by a British bank in relation to its conduct during the financial crisis.

Former chief executive John Varley, former senior investment banker Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, a former chief executive of Barclays' wealth division, and Richard Boath, the ex-European head of financial institutions, were all charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in relation to the Qatari deal.

Their trial is scheduled to start next year.

Analysis by Simon Jack, BBC Business Correspondent

Charges of fraud are a serious matter for a bank as a conviction can carry hefty financial and operational penalties - such as losing licences to operate in important overseas markets.

So today's instruction by a crown court judge to dismiss criminal charges against Barclays PLC and its operating subsidiary Barclays Bank is clearly good news for the bank.

The SFO has the right to appeal this decision and is expected to do so. Barclays stressed that the decision to dismiss charges against the bank would not affect criminal proceedings against four former executives - including former CEO John Varley - whose trial is expected to start in early 2019.

In 2013 Barclays was fined £50 million by the city watchdog in relation to the same Qatar fundraising. Barclays disputed the findings of the FCA at the time but that conversation was put on hold pending the criminal case against the bank which was thrown out today.