A former senior Barclays banker claims he was unfairly dismissed after the Serious Fraud Office shared with his employer a 900-page transcript of interviews he gave to criminal investigators probing the bank, a tribunal has heard.
Richard Boath, who until his dismissal earlier this year was Barclays’ co-head of global finance, gave a lengthy interview in March 2014. It took place as part of the SFO’s investigation into the bank’s £7.3bn emergency capital-raising in 2008, at the height of the banking crisis.
The transcript was kept private for more than two years, but earlier this year it was shared with Barclays when the SFO used Boath’s interview to support an application for a warrant to search the bank.
Jonathan Cohen QC, Boath’s lawyer, told a preliminary tribunal hearing in east London on Wednesday that his client had been pushed out after Barclays learned what Boath had told the SFO.
“We say that Mr Boath’s position was severely jeopardised,” Cohen said. This was as a “direct result” of the SFO sharing a transcript of Boath’s interview. Cohen added: “He will say, ‘The reason I find myself out on my ear ... is because the SFO did that’.”
The transcript is now the focus of a dispute about whether Boath’s forthcoming unfair dismissal case should be heard in private. At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for the Guardian and other media argued that the case should be heard in public.
But lawyers for the SFO told the hearing that holding the tribunal in public would threaten the agency’s ongoing investigations and any potential prosecutions. They argued a public hearing raised the prospect of potential witnesses or defendants – who might feature in a future trial – learning the details of Boath’s SFO interviews and, as a result, amending their own statements.
No charges have been brought by the SFO, which is focusing on allegations concerning certain fees paid in relation to Barclays’ deals in 2008 to raise capital from sovereign funds in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Without this extra capital the bank would have been forced to accept a UK government bailout.
Boath is seeking to make his employment claim against Barclays under whistleblower protection laws. If successful, the scale of any resulting award would be unlimited.
Lawyers for the bank said Barclays did not accept Boath was a whistleblower. The tribunal heard Boath had been interviewed by the SFO under caution, a practice used for potential suspects.
The preliminary tribunal hearing continues.
This article was written by Simon Bowers, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 17.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010