Accused ex-Barclays chief quits Rio Tinto board

Former Barclays chief executive John Varley has been charged with "conspiracy to commit fraud" over emergency fundraising from Qatar during the financial crisis (AFP Photo/Shaun CURRY) (AFP/File)

Sydney (AFP) - Former Barclays chief executive John Varley quit as a director of mining giant Rio Tinto on Wednesday after being charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in Britain.

He was among four senior executives from the bank charged on Tuesday by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following a five-year investigation over emergency fundraising worth billions of dollars from Qatar during the financial crisis.

The Anglo-Australian miner's chairman Jan du Plessis said he had the "highest regard" for Varley, who has been on the Rio board since 2011.

"I am very grateful for John’s outstanding contribution over the five or so years he has been on the board," he said.

"The board holds him in the highest regard and will miss his valuable insight. Personally, I am not only losing a senior independent director, but a close colleague, whose wisdom and support I am going to miss tremendously."

His resignation as a non-executive director and chair of the company's remuneration committee will take immediate effect.

Britain's SFO said the charges he faces relate to Barclays "capital raising arrangements with Qatar Holding LLC and Challenger Universal Ltd, which took place in June and October 2008".

It added that they also involve a US$3-billion loan facility made available to the State of Qatar acting through the country's Ministry of Economy and Finance in November 2008.

Barclays has said it was "considering its position", with the defendants due to appear before London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on July 3.