Barclays faces trial over $3 billion Qatar loan

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The Serious Fraud Office has charged Barclays Bank PLC with "unlawful financial assistance" related to billions of pounds raised from Qatar in 2008.

The same charge was made against the bank's holding company last June, but it is the operating unit that is licensed for banking operations, meaning any conviction could also prompt sanctions from regulators.

Barclays PLC and Barclays Bank PLC intend to defend the respective charges brought against them.

It follows charges against the bank's holding company and four executives in June previous year related to the same deal.

It will be the first time that a British bank has faced a criminal trial over its conduct during the financial crisis.

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The fund-raising deal allowed the banking group - the world's 15th largest by assets - to avoid the fate of Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland which were both bailed out by the government and were part-nationalised.

In order to avoid asking the United Kingdom government for a taxpayer bailout, Barclays raised nearly £12bn from investors in the Middle East, including the Qatari state sovereign wealth fund, to help it weather the storm.

"Barclays does not expect there to be an impact on its ability to serve its customers and clients as a effect of the charge having been brought", the company said in a statement.

Barclays had secured a number of funding channels in 2008 to sidestep a taxpayer rescue, including from Qatari, Abu Dhabi and Singaporean investors - but the way in which the bank secured the cash has since come under scrutiny.

'Further to that announcement, the SFO has today charged Barclays Bank with the same offence'.

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