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British court dismisses charges against Barclays over 2008 capital raise

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British court dismisses charges against Barclays over 2008 capital raise
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By Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) – A British court has dismissed charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against Barclays <BARC.L> over its 2008 capital raising, the bank said on Monday, suspending for now the threat of regulatory sanctions on its business operations over the matter.

The SFO was however not prepared to let the case drop.

“We are likely to seek to reinstate the charges by applying to the High Court,” an SFO spokesman said.

Barclay denied the SFO’s allegation that a $3 billion (2.2 billion pound) loan it made to Qatar in November 2008 was connected with a Qatari investment in the British bank which ultimately helped it avoid a British government rescue during the financial crisis, unlike its rivals Lloyds <LLOY.L> and Royal Bank of Scotland <RBS.L>.

A dismissal of the charges against Barclays and its operating subsidiary would remove the biggest remaining legal headache facing Barclays over its conduct during the financial crisis

Qatar, which is a major investor in Britain, has not been accused of wrongdoing itself, but public companies in Britain are normally prohibited from lending money for the purchase of their own shares, known as “financial assistance”.

Separately four former Barclays bankers face a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation when they negotiated a capital injection for the bank from Qatar, in a trial due to start next January.

Barclays said the dismissal of the charges against itself should not be taken to have any bearing on whether other people may have committed a criminal offence.

Barclays shares were up 1 percent by 1035 GMT, in line with the FTSE 350 British banks index <.FTNMX8350>.

(Reporting By Lawrence White, additional reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Jane Merriman/Keith Weir)

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