Barclays, CEO probed over whistleblower incident

British regulators are investigating Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley and the bank itself over the handling of a whistleblowing incident.
Mr Jes Staley said he did not know he was not allowed to try and find out who wrote a whistle- blowing letter.
Mr Jes Staley said he did not know he was not allowed to try and find out who wrote a whistle- blowing letter. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Barclays yesterday confirmed it was under investigation, along with its chief executive officer Jes Staley, over his attempts to uncover the identity of a whistleblower within the British financial giant.

In a statement, Barclays said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have "commenced investigations into Jes Staley, as to his senior manager responsibilities relating to Barclays' whistleblowing programme, and Barclays Bank".

The board said it had accepted Mr Staley's explanation that he did not know he was not allowed to try and identify the author of a whistleblowing letter sent in 2016.

"The board has concluded that Mr Staley honestly, but mistakenly, believed that it was permissible to identify the author of the letter," it said. The bank vowed to "cooperate fully" with the FCA and PRA investigations and said that "a very significant compensation adjustment" will be made to his pay packet this year.

Mr Staley said he had apologised to the Barclays board and accepted its findings.

An anonymous letter was sent to board members last year raising concerns about a senior employee who had recently been recruited, including issues of a personal nature, the bank explained. Mr Staley requested that the bank's Group Information Security team find out who wrote the letter which he viewed as "an unfair personal attack on the senior employee".

The board found out about his actions early this year and instructed an external law firm, Simmons & Simmons, to investigate, as well as informing the FCA and PRA.

Chairman 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Barclays, CEO probed over whistleblower incident'. Print Edition | Subscribe