Belfast Telegraph

Barclays boss faces probe after attempt to unmask whistleblower

Barclays boss Jes Staley will be probed by Britain's financial watchdog and have his pay docked over governance failings which saw him attempt to identify a whistleblower.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have opened an investigation into Mr Staley's conduct and senior manager responsibilities relating to the lender's whistleblowing programme.

Following an independent investigation, Barclays has also decided to issue the chief executive with a formal written reprimand and ensure that a "very significant compensation adjustment" be made to Mr Staley's bonus.

The incident refers to anonymous letters sent in 2016 to the board and an executive, which raised concerns about a newly-recruited senior employee and Mr Staley's role in the recruitment.

Having been given a copy of the first letter and made aware of the second, Mr Staley initially requested that Barclays Group Information Security team attempt to identify the authors of the letters as he considered they were an "unfair personal attack" on the employee, the bank said.

Barclays said that Mr Staley "honestly, but mistakenly, believed that it was permissible to identify the author" of a letter written by the whistleblower.

The board concluded that Mr Staley "made an error" in becoming involved with and not applying appropriate governance around the matter.

The attempt to uncover the whistleblower's identity was ultimately unsuccessful.

Mr Staley has apologised to the board, but will nevertheless see his pay docked, with the precise amount of the compensation adjustment to be determined once the FCA and PRA investigations have concluded.

Last year the American raked in £4.2 million, including an annual bonus of £1.3 million.

The bank is also commissioning independent reviews of its processes and controls, including its whistleblowing programme.

Barclays and Mr Staley will co-operate fully with the FCA and PRA investigations, the bank said.

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 co-operate fully with the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation 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."

Barclays chairman John McFarlane threw his weight behind Mr Staley, saying he has an otherwise exemplary record and continues to have the board's unanimous confidence and support.

Shares in Barclays nudged down 0.5% in morning trading.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, described the incident as an embarrassment and a distraction.

"Incidents like this do nothing to convince the public that banking misdemeanours are in the rear-view mirror, and this is undoubtedly an embarrassment, not to mention a distraction, for Barclays and its CEO.

"Barclays has actually been doing quite well under Jes Staley's leadership, so this error is a blemish in what was starting to look like a promising tenure.

"Shareholders will be doubly disappointed that the bank is once again in trouble with regulators, and that the man at the top of the organisation is responsible for it."