Once High-Flying Barclays Banker Backs CA Cannabis Venture

A once high-flying banker at Britain’s Barclays Plc plans to use his financial savvy to capitalize on California’s marijuana industry.

Richard Jenkins, one of Barclays’ highest paid bankers, is behind a California investment fund that has bought real estate to set up a marijuana business in his adopted home of California, Bloomberg reported.

Californians will vote on an adult-use marijuana initiative this fall. If passed, it would create huge opportunities for marijuana entrepreneurs.

Jenkins, who left Barclays in 2009, is among several investors behind the project, according to Bloomberg, which cited sources who wanted to remain anonymous because Jenkins’ stake in the venture isn’t yet public.

The news highlights how wheelers and dealers from big financial institutions as well as wealthy investors increasingly are interested in the cannabis sector.

Last week, Tuatara Capital, a marijuana-focused investment fund in New York City, announced it had raised a record $93 million for cannabis investments, while Seattle-based Privateer raised $75 million last year.

At Barclays, Jenkins headed the bank’s Middle Eastern investment banking unit and helped broker cash injections totaling some $15.5 billion from Middle Eastern investors during the 2008 financial crisis.

Those transactions, however, have drawn scrutiny from the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, which is investigating Jenkins and several other Barclays executives over the fees the bank paid, according to Bloomberg. The SFO has said it plans to finish the investigation by the end of 2016.