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Barclays executive fired over SFO-Qatar interview, lawyer says

Richard Boath was interviewed by the SFO in 2014 as part of its criminal investigation into the bank’s 7 billion-pound fund-raising

Gulf News

London: A former Barclays executive was unfairly dismissed after the bank received a copy of his interview with UK prosecutors over its 2008 Qatar fund-raising, his lawyer told an employment tribunal.

Richard Boath, 57, who was chairman of financial institutions at Barclays, was interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office in 2014 as part of its criminal investigation into the bank’s £7 billion (Dh31.9 billion, $8.7 billion) fund-raising at the height of the financial crisis. Boath’s dismissal from the bank this year was a “direct result” of the SFO giving a transcript of the interview to the bank, his lawyer, Jonathan Cohen, said Wednesday.

Cohen’s comments were made at a hearing to determine whether an employment claim by Boath should be heard in private. The SFO, supported by Barclays, is seeking to keep the case out of the public domain over claims it would jeopardise the criminal investigation. The application for privacy was opposed Wednesday by Boath and counsel for a group of media publications.

Boath is suing the bank over claims relating to pay, unfair dismissal and whistle-blowing.

“These claims are fully defended, they will be hotly contested,” Richard Lissack, a lawyer for Barclays, told the court.

A spokesman for Barclays declined to comment.

The SFO opened an investigation in 2012 into £322 million the bank paid Qatari investors in fees as part of a loan it took during the financial crisis to avoid a state bailout. The probe has seen a number of senior executives interviewed by UK prosecutors including former Chief Executive Officer Bob Diamond.

A lawyer for the SFO said the employment claim should be heard in private to avoid “witness contamination” as it carries out interviews. The agency told another court earlier this month it would decide on whether to bring charges by the end of March.