The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged Barclays Bank PLC with “unlawful financial assistance” over its actions during the 2008 financial crisis.

During the 2008 crisis, Barclays took a £12bn loan from Qatar Holdings, a financial vehicle owned entirely by the gulf state, instead of accepting assistance form the UK government, like the bailouts issued to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.

Under the deal, Barclays loaned £2.3bn back to Qatar, funds that the SFO alleges were then used by Qatar to buy shares in Barclays, which it says was “unlawful financial assistance”.

The charges against Barclays Bank PLC are the same as those brought against parent company Barclays PLC last year. If found guilty, Barclays could lose its lucrative banking license that allows it to operate overseas.

Alongside the corporate charges, the SFO also charged a number of former executives at the bank with conspirsacy to commit fraud, including former chief executive John Varley, former senior investment banker Roger Jenkins, former chief executive of Barclays’ wealth division, Thomas Kalaris, and former European head of financial institutions, Richard Boath.

In response to the charges, Barclays said in a statement: “Barclays PLC and Barclays Bank PLC intend to defend the respective charges brought against them. Barclays does not expect there to be an impact on its ability to serve its customers and clients as a consequence of the Charge having been brought.”

The bank and its former executives will face trial in 2019.

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