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Ex-Barclays CEO cleared of fraud charges

[LONDON] Fraud charges against a former chief executive officer (CEO) of British banking giant Barclays have been dropped, but three co-defendants will face a retrial following an appeal, a court heard Friday.

Ex-CEO John Varley, along with former executives Richard Boath, Roger Jenkins and Thomas Kalaris, had been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with emergency fundraising from Qatar during the 2008 global financial crisis.

Friday's announcement comes after the jury at their London trial was dismissed in April following a ruling by the judge that the evidence against them was insufficient. All four had pleaded not guilty.

But following an appeal by Britain's Serious Fraud Office, Court of Appeal judges have now ruled that three of the four will face a retrial, while Varley has been cleared.

Varley, who was chief executive from 2004 to 2010, had been the highest ranking UK banking official to face charges linked to the financial crisis.

The charges concerned emergency funding secured from Qatari investors.

To avoid asking the UK government for a taxpayer bailout, Barclays raised nearly £12 billion (S$20.7 million) from investors in the Middle East, including the Qatari state sovereign wealth fund, to help it weather the storm.

In turn, Barclays loaned US$3 billion to the State of Qatar.

By contrast, British rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group had to have billions of pounds of taxpayers' money pumped into them.