Britain’s SFO denied permission to reinstate charges against Barclays

A Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) – A judge on Friday denied the Serious Fraud Office’s application to reinstate charges against Barclays (BARC.L) over its 2008 capital raising, potentially ending the biggest remaining legal headache facing the bank over its conduct during the financial crisis.

A British court in May had dismissed the charges against the bank, a decision the SFO said at the time it would seek to reverse by applying to the High Court to reinstate them.

Barclays denies the SFO’s allegation that a $3 billion loan it made to Qatar in November 2008 was connected with a Qatari investment in the British bank which ultimately helped Barclays avoid a British government rescue during the financial crisis.

Qatar, which is a major investor in Britain, has not been accused of wrongdoing, but public companies in Britain are normally prohibited from lending money for the purchase of their own shares, known as “financial assistance”.

The SFO had been pursuing charges that Barclays unlawfully received such assistance, and that it had conspired with former senior executives to commit fraud over two so-called “advisory services agreements” between Qatar and the bank.

The collapse of one of its most high-profile corporate prosecutions represents a major setback for the SFO, which has faced criticism from British politicians over the past few years.

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