According to an article published by the Financial Times over the weekend, the DoJ is making enquiries into how the bank won its Saudi licence to operate a wealth management arm and investment bank in 2009.
Specifically the investigation, which the FT said is at an early stage, aims to establish whether payments made by the bank contravened the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the 1977 act, the DoJ has the power to prosecute bribery which has taken place anywhere in the world if it has been perpetrated by a company with links to the US.
Barclays was one of a number of western banks which entered the Middle East during the height of the financial crisis in order to raise capital. As reported earlier this year, the bank is also under investigation for payments made to the Qatar Investment Authority by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.
At the time the bank released a statement confirming the investigation.
In June 2011, International Adviser warned that the UK Bribery Act, which came into force in July last year, may impact UK companies which operate in the Middle East using local “sponsors”.
In the Middle East it is common for countries to request by law that a foreign company has a local “agent” or “sponsor” who will be paid by the overseas company.