Finance

Amanda Staveley loses High Court battle against Barclays

Amanda Staveley has lost her High Court case against Barclays, despite the judge ruling that the bank was “guilty of serious deceit” towards her investment firm, PCP Capital Partners, over a 2008 fundraising.

PCP had brought a civil lawsuit against Barclays, alleging deceit over its capital raising with Qatar, which was heard last year.

In the 2008 banking crisis, PCP had been involved in abortive efforts to put together a consortium to invest in Barclays with Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour. PCP sued Barclays in the High Court after it found out that Abu Dhabi was not getting the same deal as Qatar, which also invested billions of pounds in the bank.

Handing down his ruling on the case, Mr Justice David Waksman said Barclays had made misrepresentations to PCP, but he added that the firm’s overall lawsuit failed because it could not prove it would have obtained the necessary debt funding to do a deal.

The judge said: “I can understand why this outcome will be a serious disappointment to PCP, especially after I have found Barclays to be guilty of serious deceit towards it.”

In his ruling Waksman described Staveley as a “tough, clever and creative entrepreneur” whose evidence was “reliable” for the most part. He said he rejected the bank’s attempts to paint her as a lightweight “chancer” who had engaged in a “hustle” over the capital raising.

PCP had claimed that Barclays had assured Staveley she was getting the same deal as Qatar but she later found out the Qataris had been paid additional fees.

Waksman was critical of Roger Jenkins, Barclays’ former head of Middle East, who led Barclays’ negotiations with PCP, describing him as a “risk-taker” who was “prepared to be dishonest” and he ruled parts of his evidence were “clearly unsatisfactory and implausible”.

“In my judgment, Mr Jenkins knew perfectly well that PCP was not getting the same deal in the required sense,” Waksman found.

He was also critical of John Varley, an ex-chief executive of Barclays, who had sought to downplay his involvement in approving a $3bn loan to Qatar. “In my judgment, Mr Varley’s evidence on this point was disingenuous and was an attempt to distance himself from the Loan,” he ruled.

The case raises fresh questions about Barclays’ behaviour during 2008, when the bank relied on money from Middle Eastern investors to prop it up — rather than take a UK government bail out. Barclays still faces an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the financial regulator, which has previously signalled it will fine the lender £50m over its conduct.

Barclays escaped criminal charges over the Qatar fundraising from the Serious Fraud Office in 2018 when the Criminal Court of Appeal dismissed charges against it. Varley was cleared by the Court of Appeal in 2019 and Jenkins along with two other ex-Barclays executives were cleared of wrongdoing in a criminal trial last year.

Barclays said: “We welcome the Court’s decision to dismiss PCP’s claim in its entirety and award it no damages.”

Staveley is considering an appeal. “The judgment confirms what I have said from the outset and repeated in my evidence; a senior executive at Barclays repeatedly lied to me when seeking private investment in the bank during the 2008 financial crisis,” she said.

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