LONDON: The London trial of former Barclays executives accused of fraud over a deal with Qatar during the global banking crisis of 2008 has attracted global media coverage.
The opening of the case at London’s Southwark Crown Court saw a courtroom so packed that reporters had to request tickets to gain entry.
But the story of the first major UK criminal trial to emerge from the global financial crisis has yet to make many headlines in Qatar — where much of the drama originates.
At the time, Barclays raised billions of pounds from Qatar in a move that allowed the bank to avoid taking a government bailout.
During the fraud trial — which began in January — the prosecution told the court that the then Qatari Prime Mister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim demanded a personal fee for investing in Barclays.
International coverage of the trial has been extensive.
On Jan. 25 under a story headlined:“Barclays executives discussed ‘dodgy’ fee for Qatari PM, jury told,” the Financial Times reported on a fee demanded by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani for investing in the then ailing bank
“You can’t have the prime minister of Qatar as an adviser to Barclays Bank . . . It’s like having the President of the United States (as) advisers to JPMorgan; you just can’t have it,” said Roger Jenkins, known as “big dog” by his colleagues, and the “gatekeeper” of Barclays’ relationship with Sheikh Hamad. I don’t know what to do with this . . . he wants his money.”
On Jan. 30, The Guardian reported that Barclays’ lawyers did not object to £322 million in fees paid to Qatar and that the bank’s legal team had “persuaded themselves” that the 2008 agreement was lawful.
But while the international media have devoured the sensational revelations around Qatar’s involvement in the 2008 Barclays bailout, the appetite of the Doha-based media for the story has been somewhat muted.
The only mention of Barclays in state-owned Al Jazeera Arabic was in November last year. Similarly, the only mention of the case in Al Sharq was published in May, titled: “Barclays cleared of obtaining a Qatari loan.” There was no other mention of the accusations against the executives .
The muted coverage has raised questions by some media analysts over whether Doha-based Al Jazeera and its Arabic-language service deliberately downplay stories that reflect negatively on Qatar. “There is no longer a need to make much effort to prove that Al Jazeera has become far from professional,” said Abdellatif El-Menawy, a writer and columnist.
“So it was normal to select from news and events what is consistent with the policy and interests of its owners.
And also, to ignore what it considers to be disclosure of abuses by Qatari officials, even if they are proven or circulating in the media.”