Barclays Bank has been charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with "unlawful financial assistance" in relation to billions of pounds it raised from Qatari investors a decade ago.

To avoid a government bailout, the FTSE 100-listed lender raised £11.8bn from a number of investors in the Middle East.

Barclays undertook two cash calls in 2008, raising £4.5bn in June and a further £7.3bn in October from investors in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere.

The latest charge relates to a $3bn loan Barclays made to the state of Qatar in November 2008.

The Qatari investors included Qatar Holding, which is part of the state's sovereign wealth fund, and an investment of the former prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani.

In July last year, the same charges were brought against the parent company with one offence of "unlawful financial assistance" in regard to the $3bn loan provided to the State of Qatar in November 2008.

John Varley, the former chief executive of Barclays, became the first global bank chief executive to face criminal charges, at a preliminary hearing at Westminster magistrates court.

Apart from Varley the other three are former executives Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris and Richard Boath.

However, at the time, the SFO did not have time to make a decision over whether it should charge Barclays Bank as well.

The charges against the subsidiary could have major repercussions, as the latter holds the banking licence that allows it to operate in different countries.

Should Barclays been found guilty, it would lose its licence.

"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 company said in a statement.