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Monday, July 3, 2017

Bribery at Barclays: Can an Unethical Culture Be Changed?

Amid the financial crisis in 2008, Barclays raised $15 billion from Qatar and other investors. The infusion of capital saved the European bank from needing a government bailout. Unfortunately, the bank may not have disclosed the $390 million paid to the Qatari government for “advisory services” as part of the fund-raising, and the $3 billion loan facility that Barclays made available to that government.[1] The bank, along with three of its executives at the time were charged in 2017 with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and providing unlawful financial assistance—in other words, paying a bribe to avoid needing an E.U. or state-level bailout. According to Amanda Staveley, a European financier, Barclays improperly favored the Qataris in the fund-raising. The relationship between the bank and the Qatari government rings of “mutual back-scratching.” Admittedly, any business deal involves both parties benefitting, and in much of the world bribery is de facto necessary cost of doing business. Nevertheless, Barclays may have had an organizational culture similar to that of Wells Fargo in which anything goes in pursuit of profit.

The full essay is at "Essays on the Financial Crisis , available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.

1. Chad Bray, “Former Barclays Executives Appear in Court Over Qatar Deal,” The New York Times, July 3, 2017.