Barclay CEO Jes Staley decision to uncover a company whistleblower proved to end in the company’s favor as the British bank announced it will cut his bonus for his role in a company-wide investigation.
According to a statement, Staley apologized for his attempt to reveal the author of a letter about a senior Barclays staffer. He said he believed that it was permissible to identify who wrote the letter, and issued a formal apology for his conduct. He has agreed to cooperate with FCA and PRA investigations into the matter.
“I have apologized to the Barclays board, and accepted its conclusion that my personal actions in this matter were errors on my part,” Staley said. “I will also accept whatever sanction it deems appropriate. I will cooperate fully with the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulatory Authority, which are now both examining this 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. In my desire to protect our colleague, however, I got too personally involved in this matter.”
Barclays Chairman of the Board John McFarlane also commented on the situation, saying he was “very disappointed” in the CEO, and the matter has been dealt with seriously according to bank policy to protect whistleblowers.
“The Board takes Barclays culture and the integrity of its controls extremely seriously,” McFarlane said. “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.”
McFarlane said Staley’s attempt to identify the author of the letters came to the attention of the board in early 2017, when another employee questioned whether the action violated the company’s whistleblowing policy. In response, Barclays consulted with independent law firm external law firm, Simmons & Simmons LLP, which notified regulatory agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The board agreed Staley’s action was a mistake and that he was attempting to protect a colleague by identifying the author of the letter.
The anonymous letter in question was sent to the Barclays board in June of 2016. A second letter was sent to a bank executive. They contained personal information about a senior employee, which raised questions about possible issues at the staffer’s previous employer and the manner in which the employer was recruited by Barclays a year earlier.
Staley, 60, then requested that the Barclays Group Information Security (GIS) department attempt to track down the author, claiming the information in the letters constituted a personal attack on the employee. Staley also attempted to find the writer by way of a United States law enforcement agency, which also violates the Barclays policy to grant whistleblowers anonymity.
The GIS team, Barclays spokesmen said, informed Staley that outing the letter writer was not appropriate, and the team did not take action. Staley also ended his probe at that point, the company said.
While details of Staley’s pay cut have not been released, officials say he will lose a portion of this year’s bonus of $1.6 million (1.3 million pounds). The exact amount of the penalty will be included in a written reprimand.
A Boston native, Jes Staley came to Barclays in 2015. Before that, he was a partner with the hedge fund BlueMoutain Capital for two years after spending 34 years with J.P. Morgan, where he was promoted to CEO of the company’s asset management division. Staley is the older brother of AIDS activist Peter Staley.
[Featured Image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]