The chief executive of Barclays bank is being investigated and may lose his bonus after he tried to use the bank’s security team to uncover the identity of a whistleblower.
Jes Staley is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) over the claims, which centre around two letters received in June 2016.
The letters, sent anonymously to members of the Barclays board and a senior executive, raised concerns of a “personal nature” about a senior employee who had been recruited by Barclays earlier that year.
The letters also highlighted concerns about Mr Staley’s knowledge of these issues and the way he had dealt with them at a previous employer, and the recruitment process followed by Barclays.
It is believed the employee in question is Tim Main, who worked with Mr Staley at JP Morgan and was hired in June 2016 as the chairman of Barclays’ financial institutions group in New York.
According to a statement on the Barclays website , Mr Staley believed the letters, which had been identified as whistleblows, were “an unfair personal attack on the senior employee” and asked the Group Information Security (GIS) team to trace the authors of the letters.
The statement from the bank, which has its head office in Canary Wharf, added that Mr Staley was told it was not appropriate to try and identify the whistleblowers. However, in July 2016 he asked GIS to attempt to identify the author of the first letter. GIS contacted and received help from a U.S. law enforcement agency to try and trace the whistleblower but were unsuccessful and no further steps from were taken.
Mr Staley’s actions came to the attention of the board in early 2017, after concerns were raised about the whiteblowing process at the banking giant. External law firm Simmons and Simmons LLP were appointed to investigate him, and he was reported to the FCA and PRA.
The bank’s statement said both Simmons and Simmons and the board have agreed that Mr Staley made an honest mistake in believing he was allowed to try and identify the whistleblower.
However, the board has agreed that he “made an error in becoming involved with, and not applying appropriate governance around, the matter, and in taking action to attempt to identify the author of the letter”.
It added that Mr Staley would be issued with a formal written reprimand and a “significant compensation adjustment” will be made to his bonus. The amount of money he will lose will be decided when the FCA and PRA investigations are completed.
Barclays chair, John McFarlane, said: “I am personally very disappointed and apologetic that this situation has occurred, particularly as we strive to operate to the highest possible ethical standards.
“The board takes Barclays culture and the integrity of its controls extremely seriously.
“We have investigated this matter fully using an external law firm and we will be commissioning an independent review of Barclays processes and controls to determine what improvements may be required.
“The board has concluded that Jes Staley honestly but mistakenly believed it was permissible to identify the author of the letter and has accepted his explanation that he was trying to protect a colleague who had experienced personal difficulties in the past from what he believed to be an unfair attack, and has accepted his apology.
“Taking into account both the circumstances of this matter and his otherwise exemplary record since joining Barclays, including contributing significantly to improvements in Barclays culture and controls, Jes continues to have the board’s unanimous confidence and it will support his re-appointment at Barclays annual general meeting on May 10, 2017.”
Mr Staley said: “I have apologised to the Barclays board, and accepted its conclusion that my personal actions in this matter were errors on my part.
“I will also accept whatever sanction it deems appropriate.
“I will cooperate fully with the FCA and the PRA, which are now both examining the matter.
“Our whistleblowing process is one of the most important means by which we protect our culture and values at Barclays and I certainly want to ensure that all colleagues, and others who may utilise it, understand the criticality which I attach to it.”
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