Barclays chair backs beleaguered CEO Staley
The chairman of Barclays has moved to quash speculation over his future and reiterated support for under-fire chief executive Jes Staley.
Speaking at the bank's annual general meeting in London yesterday, John McFarlane told shareholders that while there had been reports suggesting he may soon leave the bank, he said "the speculation is somewhat premature".
He added that succession for his position should "take place only when the time is right".
Mr McFarlane said that when he joined the board as chairman, he indicated plans to serve a minimum of four years. "I have now served three, so while some might wish so, you are not getting rid of me yet," he said, sparking shareholder applause.
He also threw his weight behind Mr Staley - who is now facing a fine from City regulators over attempts to identify a whistleblower - reiterating that he had the unanimous support of the Barclays board.
However, one shareholder hit out at executives for their backing of the chief executive, saying he "should have known better than to bring shame on our bank". Another also asked why Mr Staley had not yet resigned.
It follows the issuing of draft warning notices by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority last month over the chief executive's attempt to identify a whistleblower in 2016.
The size of the proposed penalty has not been disclosed, but Mr Staley was given 28 days to respond to the warning notice.
Mr McFarlane pushed back at criticism of Mr Staley, saying that had the whistleblower been an employee, "the matter would have been much more serious... but it wasn't the case".
He added: "It was a malicious letter from outside the organisation that was intended to do harm to the company and to Mr Staley," and said the whistleblower's allegations were "untrue".
He also cheered the lender's recent success in putting the "bulk" of legacy issues behind it, including the recent settlement with the US Department of Justice over the sale of mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the financial crisis.
"Above all, having made so much progress, we must avoid any further material mistakes or missteps," Mr McFarlane said.