Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

Barclays, Kaupthing and the Qatari investors – updated

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I have earlier pointed out the similarities between the Kaupthing connections with the Qatari investor Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Thani and Barclays contacts with another al Thani and Qatari investors. As recounted in some details here, with Kaupthing documents, the Kaupthing saga with the Qatari investor, who bought shares in Kaupthing in September 2008 publicised at the time as showing the Qatari faith in Kaupthing, was indeed a saga of a very favourable Kaupthing loan to the Qatari investor.

This saga had surfaced in the Icelandic media but was fully documented in the SIC report in April 2010 and more recently in charges brought by the Office of the Special Prosecutor against three Kaupthing managers – Sigurdur Einarsson, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and Magnus Gudmundsson and Kaupthing’s second largest shareholder at the time, Olafur Olafsson. It did more than strife my mind if the Qatari share-buying in Barclays mirrored the Kaupthing story: that Barclays had lent them the money. Now the FT (subscription) is writing that this is indeed being investigated.

A recent Bloomberg article on the Libor probe refers to an investigation against Barclays chief financial officer Chris Lucas related to “payments made to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the bank revealed last year.” Lucas, who had sought anonymity in the Libor investigations, is also mentioned in the FT article.

As the rumours about alleged fraud started surfacing after the Icelandic bank collapse in 2008 I heard various Icelandic bankers maintain, rather miffed, that they had not done anything differently from bankers in other banks. These words are now taking on a new meaning as we get more insight into what was actually going on in other banks, especially in the UK.

The Icelandic banking saga was laid open in the Icelandic SIC report. Unfortunately, no similar work has been done in the UK or elsewhere, with one exception: the only work comparable to the SIC report, that I am aware of, is Anton Valukas report on Lehman (earlier Icelog on Valukas’ Lehman report here), which was both extensive and thorough and a fantastic read. Recently, Valukas, in his first interview (CBS 60 Minutes) on the Lehman report, has expressed his surprise that no action has been taken against Lehman managers on the basis of his report.

The alleged Barclays deal with the Qatari is yet another addition to an ever more extensive saga of widespread questionable dealings within banks, showing a staggering lack of morality and integrity. These men were not only handsomely remunerated but in some cases knighted – and so far, the bill has been passed on to shareholders whereas none of the doers has been held accountable. That could be changing now with the Libor probe but it is still too early to say if charges will be more successfully pressed than in the SFO case against Kaupthing.

*Feb 3: Chris Lucas, Barclays finance officer for almost six years, is stepping down later this year, according to Sky News. It is unclear what sort of a leaving pay-packet he takes with him. – FT reports that Barclays general counsel Mark Harding is also leaving.


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Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

January 31st, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Iceland

One Response to 'Barclays, Kaupthing and the Qatari investors – updated'

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  1. Why does London give honours, bonuses, rewards and peerages to the most delinquent Bankers most call ‘Banksters’?

    One would almost think London invests in the delinquency itself which could explain why the Bankers are let off the hook for crimes others would be jailed for and are wined, dined and knighted instead?

    George Ward

    2 Feb 13 at 1:53 pm

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