The chief executive of British bank Barclays has stepped down following a report by United Kingdom regulators into his past links with the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
es Staley has previously said he “deeply regrets” his relationship with Epstein, who killed himself at a US jail in August 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial. There is no suggestion that Mr Staley (64) knew anything about Epstein’s alleged crimes.
Mr Staley said he will contest regulators’ preliminary conclusions, which were shared with him and the bank on Friday. The report by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority examined the way Staley characterised his relationship with Epstein to Barclays when he was Epstein’s private banker in his previous job at US investment bank JP Morgan.
Details of the report have not been released, and both regulators have refused to comment.
Barclays said in a statement yesterday that the bank and Mr Staley agreed he would resign in light of regulators’ preliminary findings and Mr Staley’s decision to fight them.
The bank noted that the investigation “makes no findings” that Mr Staley saw or knew about any of Epstein’s alleged crimes, which it said was “the central question” behind its decision to back its chief executive after Epstein was arrested in 2019. It would not comment further.
Mr Staley said his last contact with Epstein was in autumn 2015, when he and his wife sailed to Epstein’s private island for lunch. That trip occurred shortly before he joined Barclays. He said he had no contact with Epstein once he joined the bank in December 2015.
CS Venkatakrishnan, head of global markets for the bank, will take over as chief executive. Barclays said succession planning has been in place for some time, and he had been identified as the preferred candidate more than a year ago.
Shares in Barclays fell 2pc following the announcement, as Mr Staley had been widely credited with doing a good job at the bank.
Barclays credited him for running the company with “commitment and skill,” helping transform operations and improve its results. It added that the regulatory process still has to run its course and that “it is not appropriate” for the bank to comment further on the preliminary conclusions.
Analysts said that Barclays had to act because of the potential damage to its reputation.
“Barclays is right to pull the plug now,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com. “It probably could have done it earlier.”
The bank said Staley will get a £2.5m (€2.95m) payout and receive other benefits for a year. He also may be eligible for repatriation costs to the US and could receive more cash.