Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford to step aside until overseas authorities

Source: NickXenophon

Qantas chairman must step aside pending investigations Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford to step aside until overseas authorities, including the UK Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority (UK), the US Department of Justice and the US Securities Exchange Commission, have completed their investigations into the activities of Barclays Plc, at the time Mr Clifford was a director.

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford to step aside until overseas authorities, including the UK Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority (UK), the US Department of Justice and the US Securities Exchange Commission, have completed their investigations into the activities of Barclays Plc, at the time Mr Clifford was a director.

Barclays, and a number of its officers, are being investigated for an ‘advisory fee’ of $500 million that was allegedly paid to facilitate a transaction with Qatar Holding LLC for a £9.2 billion injection of capital in 2008. Mr Clifford was a director of Barclays at the time the alleged payments occurred, as reported in the Australian Financial Review today.

The US investigations are examining whether payments made by Barclays to third parties have breached the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Last year, Qantas non-executive director Corinne Namblard resigned, as a result of a corruption investigation in Italy relating to allegations of bid rigging and document fraud for a company of which she was an officer.

“When Ms Namblard stood down, Mr Clifford said the Qantas board ‘appreciated her sentiments’ that she did not want the media coverage of the Italian investigation to impact on Qantas,” Nick said. “Perhaps Mr Clifford should consider these very comments in light of his own circumstances.”

“Mr Clifford needs to explain to Qantas shareholders what he knew about those ‘advisory payments’ and explain what involvement, if any, he had in authorising them,” Nick said.

“The duties of a director in the UK are as onerous in the UK as they are in Australia,” Nick said. “As a director of Barclays, Mr Clifford should have known about all the payments associated with the Qatar capital raising.”

As reported in the Australian Financial Review, the UK Financial Conduct Authority fined Barclays $84 million just last month for not disclosing the secret fees.

“If the ‘advisory fees’ were above board, why weren’t they disclosed to Barclays shareholders?” Nick asked. “They should have been disclosed as relevant information.”

“The question also needs to be asked if the transaction would have been facilitated if not for these ‘advisory fees’.”

“What did Mr Clifford actually know about this murky deal?”

Mr Clifford is due to face Qantas shareholders at its AGM in Brisbane this Friday.

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