Barclays faces SFO investigation

Barclays sign Barclays is already facing an investigation by the Financial Services Authority

Barclays says the UK's Serious Fraud Office has started an investigation into payments between the bank and Qatar Holding LLC, part of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority.

The probe relates to 2008 when Barclays was raising money from Middle East investors during the banking crisis.

The Financial Services Authority had said in July it was looking at issues around Barclays' deal with the Qataris.

Separately, in June Barclays was fined £290m for rigging Libor interest rates.

Investors will be closely watching Barclays share price when the London stock market reopens for trade on Thursday morning. Its shares had closed down by 1.38% at 186.35 pence on Wednesday.

Semi-nationalised

The SFO confirmed that the Barclays statement was correct but declined to release further details of the investigation. Barclays also refused to comment.

But it is understood that after the FSA investigation was begun in July, information was made available to the SFO prompting it open a formal investigation.

Barclays has not revealed which payments between it and Qatar are being investigated by the SFO.

The bank raised some £2bn from Qatar Holding in 2008.

Funds raised from investors in Qatar and Abu Dhabi that year allowed Barclays to avoid being semi-nationalised along with Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds.

In July, the Financial Services Authority said it was investigating both the bank and four current and former senior employees, including finance director Chris Lucas.

Resignation

Barclays is currently experiencing one of the most stormy times in its recent history.

It was fined £290m by UK and US regulators for manipulating Libor, an interbank lending rate which affects mortgages and loans.

Chief executive Bob Diamond resigned in the wake of the affair.

Barclays has also been caught up in another investigation, relating to the mis-selling of complex financial products - interest rate swaps - to small businesses.

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