Former Barclays exec battles FCA over senior role ban

A former high-ranking Barclays executive is contesting the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) decision to bar him from senior financial roles in a London tribunal.

Tom Kalaris, previously chief executive officer of Barclays' wealth division and founder of Saranac Partners, is challenging the watchdog's refusal to authorise him for top positions in the financial sector.

The dispute, which began on Monday, centres on interviews Kalaris gave to the FCA in 2013 and 2014 regarding a capital raising from Qatar during the credit crisis and a consultant's report on Barclays Wealth America's culture. The FCA's 2022 decision to reject Saranac's application for Kalaris to assume chief executive and executive director roles was based on what they claim to be a lack of openness and cooperation from the banker.

Ian Winter, representing Kalaris, argued that the FCA's case appears to focus more on what Kalaris did not say in the interviews, rather than what he actually said. Winter emphasised Kalaris's extensive experience, stating, "He 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."

The FCA, represented by Paul Stanley, maintains that the "burden of persuasion" lies with Kalaris to satisfy the regulator of his fitness for senior roles. The authority alleges that Kalaris provided answers that were untrue or misleading during the interviews.

A key point of contention is a £42 million advisory service agreement (ASA) with Qatar in June 2008. The hearing on Monday partly focused on whether this agreement was used to enhance investment terms for the Gulf investor. Kalaris, taking the witness stand, asserted that the ASA was established on legal, practical, and commercial grounds.

Kalaris, along with two other former top Barclays executives, was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to funnelling secret fees to Qatar in exchange for rescue financing during the 2008 financial crisis.

The outcome of this tribunal could have significant implications for Kalaris's future in the financial services industry and may set a precedent for similar cases involving senior banking executives and regulatory scrutiny.

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