Barclays Plc faces probe over Qatar payments

Barclays Plc is facing a criminal probe into fees it paid in 2008 to Qatar's sovereign wealth fund as the bank sought to raise money in a bid to avoid a government bailout. 

The lender said yesterday in a statement that The Serious Fraud Office, which investigates bribery and white-collar crime, told the London-based bank that it had ''commenced an investigation into payments under certain commercial agreements between Barclays and Qatar Holding LLC.'' 

Barclays raised 7 billion pounds of capital from investors, which included the Abu Dhabi and Qatar sovereign wealth funds following the start of the financial crisis in 2007. 

The investigation came as another legal pitfall for Britain's second-biggest lender by assets after it paid US and UK authorities and another 290 million pounds in June for manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, as also related interest benchmarks.

Three top Barclays executives, including chief executive officer Robert Diamond, resigned after the scandal erupted.

Meanwhile, prosecutors continue to work alongside the UK Financial Services Authority, Britain's finance regulator, which was conducting a civil investigation into whether the bank adequately disclosed fees it agreed to pay the Qatar Investment Authority, Bloomberg quoted a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because the discussions between the agencies were confidential as saying.