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Hollywood parties, yacht dinners and Britain’s richest banker: how Barclays avoided a bailout as the system came crashing down

Jury's decision to clear ex-Barclays bankers Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath ends a high-profile case that's lasted seven years

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Roger Jenkins 
Barclays banker Roger Jenkins was the architect of the lender's rescue in 2008 Credit: HENRY NICHOLLS /REUTERS

Just months after he secured a crucial emergency fundraising with Qatar in 2008, the man once dubbed Britain’s wealthiest banker held a lavish party at his £30m Mayfair home to raise some more cash.

Roger Jenkins' charity bash, co-hosted with the Scotsman's then-wife Diana2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app and the actor George Clooney, cost his 100 celebrity friends £10,000 a ticket.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appHaving just been credited with rescuing Barclays, the man of the hour successfully raised £10m for refugees displaced from the civil war in Darfur.

It was a bonanza described as the "celebrity house party to end all others" at the time.  Those photographed entering Jenkins' Mayfair mansion included Matt Damon, Bono, Sir Michael Caine, Guy Ritchie, Yasmin Le Bon and Claudia Schiffer2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app. TV chefs Ainsley Harriott and Antony Worrall Thompson provided the food. 

On this occasion, the couple were using their black book of powerful contacts to help the needy – raising their own profile in the process, of course.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appBut those connections proved just as valuable in Jenkins' other life as head of investment banking at Barclays as the bank spiralled towards crisis at the height of the financial crisis.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThey helped him forge a rescue deal which was arguably crucial in helping Barclays dodge a bailout by taxpayers as Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland fell into the arms of the state, and sparked a years-long criminal investigation that finally led to Jenkins' acquittal for fraud on Friday morning.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe banker's success to a large extent rested on the shoulders of socialite Diana Jenkins, who would go on to make headlines for her links to Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand and singer Justin Timberlake.

She was the key networker in their relationship and forged a crucial role in overseeing what she called "the Roger brand".  

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appA major player on London’s fund-raising dinner circuit at the time, Diana introduced her husband to the Qatari prime minister and the chairman of its sovereign wealth fund Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani when the couple were on holiday in Sardinia in 2007. 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAfter bonding over dinner aboard a Mediterranean yacht that summer, the two men soon met again on the French Riviera. The conversation turned to the banking industry and the cracks that had started to show from the financial crisis.

This blossoming relationship was vital for Barclays, which in 2008 secured a £3.9bn investment from Qatar.

Jenkins, one of the bank's top bankers at the time who was in charge of investment banking in the Middle East, was viewed as the "gatekeeper" to the wealthy Gulf state and was that year tipped for a £25m bonus. Earlier in the trial it was heard how he told the bank's bosses he should get a special reward for his work to "save our a****" through the deal.

But the celebrations and the banter soon ended. In 2012 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched an investigation into how the money was secured, and five years later it initiated criminal proceedings against Jenkins and three ex-colleagues.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe men were accused of conspiring to commit fraud by secretly paying Qatar to bail out Barclays – misleading shareholders and the public – and faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

But cracks quickly began to appear in the case brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). First, charges against Barclays itself were thrown out by the High Court. Then an initial trial – the first UK criminal case against bankers over actions they took during the financial crisis – collapsed and former Barclays chief executive John Varley was acquitted last year by the Court of Appeal.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe SFO still pressed ahead. But at a retrial in the Old Bailey, a jury on Friday ruled that the remaining trio of defendants – 64-year-old Jenkins and his former colleagues Richard Boath, 61 and Tom Kalaris, 64 – were innocent on all counts.

For Jenkins, it was a vindication of the decisions he made when calling on the power of "the Roger brand".

"For the last eight years, since these investigations began, I have lived under a cloud over my private and business life," Jenkins later said.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app"This has taken an enormous toll on me both economically and personally, and I look forward now to rebuilding my life." 

Richard Boath outside the Old Bailey Credit: Kirsty O'Connor /PA

A jury heard how the Qataris played hardball during the process, with a negotiator for Sheikh Hamad making clear to Jenkins during a meeting in London's Claridges Hotel in June 2008 that the fees being offered in exchange for the money was not enough. 

During a cash call like this, all investors involved should be paid the same. However the prosecutors argued that the bankers lied to the market in documents detailing two fundraisings, in June and October 2008, by dishonestly hiding £322m of extra fees for Qatar in so-called advisory services agreements.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAmanda Staveley – a glamorous financier who once dated Prince Andrew – represented Abu Dhabi investors when they pumped in funds at the same time, and is suing Barclays for $1bn (£780m) over claims her side was unfairly treated. This lawsuit is continuing.

The bankers always denied any wrongdoing, saying the agreements were genuine. a spokesman for Sheikh Hamad said on Friday that the extra agreements were legitimate and were "suggested to the Qatari parties by and on behalf of Barclays and not vice versa".

At the time of the second fundraising, Britain's banking sector was on the brink of collapse and the situation was desperate.

Phone calls played out in court highlighted the strain the bankers were under, with Boath telling a colleague the bank was "basically dead" without the money from Qatar and if it did not come through "we're f*cked".

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appGordon Brown, the prime minister at the time, announced in October 2008 that the Government was taking control of three high street banks – RBS, HBOS and Lloyds – which together had more than 40m customers and almost half the country's mortgage market. A failure on this scale was once unimaginable. 

The jury heard that the executives felt Qatari investors had Barclays "by the balls" during the negotiations, given the unusual circumstances at the time.

In 2008 Gordon Brown, the prime minister at the time, announced that the Government was taking control of three high street banks – RBS, HBOS and Lloyds   Credit: Dan Kitwood 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAlistair Darling, then chancellor, said the unprecedented intervention had not yet ended and other banks could be next. Barclays insisted that it would raise £6.5bn in new capital itself and did not need the Government's help. 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appTense phone calls from that period played out in court shows the pressures the trio were under, with some calls even suggesting that they know they could get into trouble.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appBoath was heard telling Kalaris there was a risk of being "rumbled" and people saying "well that was b*llshit, [..] this is just a fee in the backdoor" while Kalaris joked to Boath about not wanting to go to jail, saying: "the food sucks and the sex is worse".  

Nevertheless sources said lawyers for the defendants had grown increasingly confident in the final weeks of the trial that the men would be cleared.

It took the jury just five and a half hours to reach not guilty verdicts, dealing a devastating blow to the SFO which has already seen a previous case linked to the fundraising collapse – a decision it appealed.

Its charges against Barclays former chief Mr Varley were dismissed at Southwark Crown Court last year due to insufficient evidence while its case against Barclays was thrown out in 2018. Lawyers said the reputation of the SFO rested on this case, and the failure now throws its future into doubt.

Theresa May considered merging the body anti-drug and human trafficking body the National Crime Agency in 2017. 

Jenkins said it needs to be "properly resourced to act fairly and expeditiously" while Michael O’Kane, a lawyer acting for Boath, said there should be an "urgent independent review of the operations and the decision-making" at the SFO. 

The bankers involved will now be hoping to move on with their lives. 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app"I am looking forward to reconnecting with my family and friends, who have stood by me through this last decade, and to returning to my business life," Jenkins said.

How different it must all seem to the Hollywood parties, bumper bonuses and Mediterranean dinners a decade ago.

Hollywood parties, yacht dinners and Britain’s richest banker: how Barclays avoided a bailout as the system came crashing down