Barclays’ Staley Abruptly Departs
The work week greeted us with the unexpected news that Barclays CEO Jes Staley had stepped down, reportedly due to mischaracterizing to U.K. regulators his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. It’s a good example of the importance of doing something in response to a crisis.
Staley’s friendship with Epstein isn’t news. The accusation is that Staley wasn’t completely open with regulators about it. The details are unclear. Staley apparently told authorities he had no contact with Epstein after he became Barclays CEO in December 2015. Epstein was convicted in 2008; he allegedly committed suicide while in custody awaiting trial on new charges in 2019.
The Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority reportedly informed London-based Barclays of its preliminary conclusions about Staley on Friday night. The bank announced his departure Mon., Nov. 1. It must have been an interesting weekend.
Staley says he wants to fight back against the regulators’ conclusion. While it’s obviously a difficult time for both the bank and the ex-CEO, taking the solid action of having him depart while he defends himself is better for Barclays in the long run. Still, the head of a major company leaving is no small matter.
Although detail is limited, it appears regulators believe there was a distinct lack of transparency over this relationship.
— Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter
Barclays did release a statement, one that is hard if not impossible to find outside of articles in which it’s quoted. “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,” it said.
Susannah Streeter, a Hargreaves Lansdown analyst, told CNN: “Although detail is limited, it appears regulators believe there was a distinct lack of transparency over this relationship.”
This isn’t the first time Staley has found himself in a tough spot as Barclays CEO. In 2018, he was fined $870,000 by U.K. regulators for trying to identify a whistleblower at the bank. He’s also not the first finance bigwig to lose a job over his relationship with Epstein. Earlier this year, Leon Black left New York-based Apollo Global Management, the private-equity firm he co-founded, due to his Epstein dealings.
To replace Staley, Barclays appointed C.S. Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat, who joined the firm from JPMorgan Chase & Co. shortly after Staley did and who reportedly sent a memo to employees on Monday. Bizarrely, no press release about Staley’s departure or Venkat’s promotion is among the press releases on the bank’s media page. Another lack of transparency.
Photo Credit: Barclays
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