Barclays boss quits after links with Jeffrey Epstein investigated by regulators

Barclays has revealed that its chief executive Jes Staley has resigned following an investigation by regulators into his dealings with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The bank said on Monday that Mr Staley – its chief executive since 2015 – had gone after being given sight of the preliminary conclusions of a probe launched last year by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

It was to examine his “historical” links to paedophile Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, while Mr Staley ran the private banking arm of US giant JP Morgan.

Barclays had said in February 2020 that Mr Staley had offered an account of their business relationship and its board had decided he would be “unanimously recommended” for re-election at the bank’s AGM in May 2020 as he had been “sufficiently transparent”.

Image: Jeffrey Epstein, pictured with ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, who faces sex-trafficking charges linked to him. Pic: Sky UK

But it said on Monday that it was made aware on Friday evening of the FCA and PRA’s findings of the investigation into his characterisation to Barclays of his relationship with Epstein, and the subsequent description of that relationship in Barclays’ response to the regulator.


“In view of those conclusions, and Mr Staley’s intention to contest them, the board and Mr Staley have agreed that he will step down from his role as group chief executive and as a director of Barclays,” the bank said.

“It should be noted that the investigation makes no findings that Mr Staley saw, or was aware of, any of Mr Epstein’s alleged crimes, which was the central question underpinning Barclays’ support for Mr. Staley following the arrest of Mr. Epstein in the summer of 2019.”

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Mr Staley will get a £2.5m payoff and continue to receive other benefits for a year, the bank said. He will also be eligible to receive repatriation costs to the US and could receive more cash, but no decision has been made.

He had previously said his relationship with Epstein, which he now regretted, ended in late 2015 when he moved to Barclays.

Mr Staley told Barclays staff in an email that he had quit as he did not want his personal response to the findings to be a distraction.

Who’s who in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal

The bank announced that CS Venkatakrishnan – its head of global markets – had already assumed the job of chief executive.

He told investors he planned to stick with Barclays’ strategy as it was the “right one”, but would soon announce changes to the organisation of its corporate and investment banks.

Just last month, Barclays had signalled further UK branch closures alongside financial results showing record profits – led by the investment banking arm championed by Mr Staley.

Barclays admitted that it was “disappointed” by the outcome, as he had “run the Barclays group successfully since December 2015 with real commitment and skill”, its statement said.

The FCA and PRA said they could not comment at this stage as their investigations were continuing.

Barclays shares fell almost 3% on the news.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the development: “For the chief executive, Jes Staley, to step down following an investigation by city regulators into his dealings with Epstein, it’s clear the conclusions of the probe are critical.

“While the probe did not centre on Mr Staley’s role at Barclays but what he disclosed about his previous position at JP Morgan, what was under question was how he characterised his former relationship with the disgraced financier.

“Although detail is limited, it appears regulators believe there was a distinct lack of transparency over this relationship.

“It’s understood Mr Staley will contest the conclusions, and clearly the board want to distance Barclays from what could be a long, drawn out process.”