Barclays PLC (“Barclays”) is a financial and banking services provider headquartered in London, United Kingdom.
Barclays maintains American Depository Receipts that are publicly traded on the NYSE and are registered with the SEC pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act.
According to the SEC, Barclays, through its subsidiaries in the Asia Pacific region (“Barclays’ Asian Subsidiaries”), violated the books-and-records and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA by failing to adequately train and ensure compliance with its internal anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies. Furthermore, Barclays’ Asian Subsidiaries allegedly engaged in a practice of hiring employees or interns it perceived would further its business opportunities and relationships—namely relatives and friends of government officials or clients.
The SEC alleges that managers and seniors executives at Barclays’ Asian Subsidiaries did not understand that “offers of employment were items of value” and were disallowed as a means to gain business. From mid-2009 until 2011, Barclays’ Asian Subsidiaries allegedly engaged in a practice of “relationship hires” in which offers of employment were extended to less-qualified candidates—or entirely unqualified candidates—who were children of government officials with ties to government- or state-owned entities with the intention of “win[ning] business [from such entities] going forward” or to retain business. While Barclays’ Asian Subsidiaries’ compliance officers knew of the practice, according to the SEC, they failed to properly review the hiring requests and failed to recognize and monitor “anti-corruption risks related to these hiring decisions.” With respect to certain applications, employees allegedly falsified information to obscure the identity of the hire or the reasons for hiring them. From 2011 through 2013, the SEC alleges that Barclay’s Asian Subsidiaries continued this practice despite various procedures put in place “in an attempt to manage relationship hires” and in an effort to implement additional controls around this practice. However, these policies were not comprehensive and were “sometimes ignored.” During this period, Barclays “revised its internal policies” in an attempt to strengthen the controls around referral hires and work experience hires, requiring an “attestation that the hire was not being made” for business purposes. However, despite implementing these policies and recognizing the risks involved in such practices, the SEC claims that Barclays “failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls” to ensure employees did not engage in “unauthorized transactions.” Through these hiring practices, Barclays allegedly obtained business with clients that made the hiring requests.