Barclays boss Jes Staley fined £642,000 over whistleblower scandal

The Barclays chief executive, Jes Staley, has been fined £642,430 by City regulators over his attempts to unmask a whistleblower, and the bank has also clawed back £500,000 of his bonus over the matter.

The bank will also have to report annually to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority detailing how it handles whistleblowing, after the regulators expressed concerns about its existing systems.

The whistleblowing involved letters sent to the board in 2016 raising concerns about the recruitment of Tim Main as head of the bank’s financial institutions group in New York.

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Staley tried to hunt down the author of the letters, using the bank’s internal security unit. He accused the letter writer of harassment and trying to “maliciously smear” Main, a friend and former colleague when Staley was at JP Morgan.

The regulators said Staley failed to act with due skill, care and diligence, saying he should have identified that:

He had a conflict of interest in relation to the letter, and needed to maintain an appropriate distance from the investigation.

There was a risk he would not be able to exercise impartial judgment in relation to how Barclays should respond.

Once the complaint was in the hands of the compliance team, it was important they kept control of the investigation process.

Both regulators have fined Staley 10% of his £4.5m total pay package. The amount would have been £917,800 had he not agreed to settle at an early stage of the regulator’s investigation.

Mark Steward, the FCA executive director, said: “Mr Staley breached the standard of care required and expected of a chief executive in a way that risked undermining confidence in Barclays’ whistleblowing procedures. Chief executives must act with a high degree of care and prudence at all times.

“Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing poor practice and misconduct in the financial services sector. It is critical that individuals are able to speak up anonymously and without fear of retaliation if they want to raise concerns.”

Barclays said the regulators had not found Staley was unfit to continue as chief executive but had made “a very significant adjustment” to his 2016 compensation.

Staley said: “I have consistently acknowledged that my personal involvement in this matter was inappropriate, and I have apologised for mistakes which I made. I accept the conclusions of the board, the FCA and PRA … and the sanctions which they have each applied.”