Barclays, its ex-chief executive and three others have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with conspiracy to commit fraud and for providing unlawful financial assistance during the financial crisis.
This is the first time any senior bankers have faced charges for events that took place during the crisis.
Those charged include Barclays chief executive John Varley, Thomas Kalaris, a former chief executive of Barclays’ wealth division, and Richard Boath, the ex-European head of financial institutions
The charges follow a five-year investigation from the SFO into commercial agreements between Barclays and Qatari investors.
Qatar Holding, which is part of the Qatar Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund, and Challenger, an investment vehicle owned by a former Qatari prime minister, invested more than £5bn in in the bank in June and October 2008.
Those funds allowed Barclays to avoid the fate of many of its competitors, such as rivals Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, that were forced to seek taxpayer bailouts.
In a statement Barclays said: “The charges arise in the context of Barclays’ capital raisings in June and November 2008. Barclays awaits further details of the charges from the SFO.”
The Financial Conduct Authority now looks set to reopen its probe into the deal which could prompt it to reconsider a £50m fine levied against Barclays in 2013.
A statement from the regulator said: “We are pleased that this matter, which led to the stay of our own case, is now in the public domain. We welcome a fair and transparent hearing on the basis of the charges set out today by the SFO. We work closely with the SFO across a range of matters, in pursuit of our distinct objectives.”
The defendants will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 3 July.