Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, is being investigated by Britain’s two main financial watchdogs over his links to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died last year while awaiting trial on charges that he sex-trafficked underage girls.
Barclays said that the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority had “commenced an investigation, which is ongoing, into Mr Staley’s characterisation . . . of his relationship with Mr Epstein”.
The probe was launched after the FCA made an inquiry to the bank over Mr Staley’s links to Mr Epstein, the bank said in a statement on Thursday morning.
Mr Staley developed a relationship with Mr Epstein before he was Barclays’ chief executive and visited the sex offender’s island on his yacht in 2015. He has always insisted that he subsequently cut their ties.
Barclays said it had conducted a review with external lawyers and concluded that Mr Staley had “been sufficiently transparent with the company as regards the nature and extent of his relationship with Mr Epstein”.
Barclays added that Mr Staley “retains the full confidence of the board” and would be unanimously recommended for re-election at this year’s annual meeting.
The bank said: “Mr Staley developed a professional relationship with Mr Epstein. In the summer of 2019, in light of the renewed media interest in the relationship, Mr Staley volunteered and gave to certain executives, and the chairman, an explanation of his relationship with Mr Epstein.
“Mr Staley also confirmed to the board that he has had no contact whatsoever with Mr Epstein at any time since taking up his role as Barclays group chief executive in December 2015.
“The board will continue to co-operate fully with the regulatory investigation, and will provide a further update as and when it is appropriate to do so.”
Mr Staley said it was well known that he had “a longstanding professional relationship with Jeffrey Epstein,” stretching back to 2000 when he began running JPMorgan’s private bank, which had Mr Epstein as a client.
Mr Staley added: “I have been transparent with the bank and with the board all along this process, and they have unanimously voted for me to be put up for re-election at the AGM later this year,” he told Bloomberg TV.