In Depth

Jes Staley: how Barclays boss is involved in Epstein scandal

Chief executive says he now ‘deeply regrets’ friendship with paedophile financier

170412_-_jes_staley_of_barclays.jpg

The American boss of Barclays bank is being investigated by UK regulators over his links to the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Jes Staley, 63, from Boston, became Barclays’ chief executive in 2015. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has now launched an inquiry to establish whether Staley was sufficiently clear about his friendship with Esptein when he took the job.

Staley has admitted that during his time as head of the private bank division of JP Morgan in the US, he got to know Esptein, who was found dead in his prison cell in New York last year. Epstein was awaiting trial after being charged with sex trafficking underage girls. He had previously been convicted, in 2008, of soliciting prostitution with a minor. Epstein was already a client when Staley took over the bank.

CNN quotes Barclays as saying today: “The relationship between Mr Staley and Mr Epstein was the subject of an enquiry from the Financial Conduct Authority to which the Company responded.”

The bank added that Staley retains the “full confidence of the board” after an internal review concluded that he had indeed been “sufficiently transparent with the company as regards the nature and extent of his relationship with Mr Epstein”.

The FCA would say no more other than to confirm that Staley was under investigation, says The Guardian. The recently founded Bank of England Prudential Regulation Authority is also looking into the matter.

‘Deep regret’

Staley responded with a detailed statement, saying: “It’s been very well known that I had a professional relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. It goes back to the year 2000 when I was asked to run the JP Morgan private bank.

“And he… already was a client when I joined the private bank. The relationship was maintained during my time at JP Morgan, but as I left Morgan the relationship tapered off quite significantly. We occasionally stayed in contact, and that all ended in late 2015.”

He added that he now regretted pursuing the friendship, saying: “Obviously I thought I knew him well, and I didn’t. And for sure with hindsight of what we all know now, I deeply regret having had any relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.”

Second investigation

The announcement is particularly unfortunate for Staley because this is the second time he has been investigated by the FCA since taking the Barclays job five years ago. In 2018 he was fined £642,430 by the regulator – and lost £500,000 of his bonus from Barclays – after an investigation into his handling of a whistle-blower.

The FCA said Staley had ignored a conflict of interest when he used Barclays’ security unit to hunt down the writer of a series of letters raising concerns about the probity of the appointment of Tim Main to head the bank’s financial institutions group in New York, says The Guardian.

Main was a friend of Staley’s and a former colleague when Staley was at JP Morgan, during the time that he befriended Esptein.

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