Ex Barclays banker challenges watchdog in “fit and proper” dispute

By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) – A former senior Barclays banker, who was acquitted of fraud charges in 2020, challenged Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in a London tribunal on Monday over the FCA’s refusal to authorise him for senior financial positions.

A lawyer for Tom Kalaris, a former CEO of Barclays’ wealth arm and founder of investment group Saranac Partners, said the FCA’s arguments appeared to rest on what the banker had not said, rather than what he had said, in interviews with the regulator in 2013 and 2014.

“He (Kalaris) has had over 40 years of extremely high-level experience in financial services and nothing in all of those 40 years is said to give rise to any concern …,” Ian Winter told a panel of three judges on the first day of a London hearing.

“We are faced evidentially with about as much evidence as you can have that he is fit and proper.”

The FCA in 2022 refused Saranac’s application to approve Kalaris for chief executive and executive director roles, arguing it had reasonable grounds to believe he had failed to be open and cooperative.

The case hinges on Kalaris’s interviews with the FCA about a credit crisis-era capital raising from Qatar, which helped the bank avoid a state bailout, and about a consultant report about the culture of Barclays Wealth America.

Saranac, which referred the FCA’s refusal to approve Kalaris to the tribunal, says the banker was candid and truthful. But the FCA says there is evidence that he gave answers that were untrue or misleading, according to court documents.

Paul Stanley, a lawyer for the FCA, said the “burden of persuasion” lay on the banker to satisfy the regulator.

The hearing on Monday focused in part on whether a 42-million-pound ($54-million) advisory service agreement (ASA) with Qatar in June 2008 was used to sweeten investment terms for the Gulf investor. Taking the witness stand, Kalaris said the ASA was struck on legal, practical and commercial grounds.

Kalaris and two other former top Barclays bankers were cleared in 2020 of charges they helped funnel secret fees to Qatar in return for rescue financing in 2008.

($1 = 0.7790 pounds)

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Sharon Singleton)


Close Bitnami banner