JEDDAH/LONDON Nov 10 Saudi Arabia's market
regulator said it was not aware of any investigation into a
licence it granted British bank Barclays three years
ago, after a report that U.S. authorities are probing whether
improper payments were made.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is investigating whether
Barclays made any improper payment to win a banking licence in
Saudi Arabia to operate a wealth-management arm and investment
bank, the Financial Times reported on Saturday, citing people
familiar with the investigation.
Barclays, which has had a torrid five months after being
given a record fine by U.S. and UK regulators for rigging Libor
interest rates and is under investigation on several other
issues, declined to comment.
It said on Oct. 31 the DoJ and U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission were probing whether the bank was complying with U.S.
laws in its relationships with third parties who help it win or
retain business, but declined to say where or what businesses
The DoJ declined to comment.
Barclays was licensed to start business in Saudi Arabia in
August 2009 and given final approval to start securities trading
in May 2010 after the Saudi Capital Markets Authority (CMA) said
it verified the bank had met all the requirements.
"CMA is not aware of any investigations and never received
any inquiries from regulatory bodies or anyone else in this
regard," the regulator said in a statement on Saturday.
It said since the establishment of CMA in 2005 no
reservations or observations from anyone had been raised
regarding the procedures for granting licenses.
The FT said the investigation is at an early stage and is
looking into whether payments may have contravened the U.S.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Financial Services
Authority are scrutinising payments made by Barclays to Qatar as
part of a 2008 fundraising. The bank is still
under scrutiny regarding its manipulation of Libor and also on
Oct. 31 said it faced a $435 million fine from U.S. regulators
for inappropriate trading in power markets.
The Libor scandal sparked criticism the bank took too many
risks and the resignation of Chief Executive Bob Diamond and
Chairman Marcus Agius, and new CEO Antony Jenkins and Chairman
David Walker say they are determined to change the bank's
culture and stop doing any business that could harm its
Britain's SFO also declined to comment.