Barclays boss backed by shareholder vote despite lingering whistleblower scandal
Jes Staley’s attempt to identify a whistleblower in 2016 prompted investigations last year.
Barclays boss Jes Staley has clinched sweeping support from shareholders despite lingering concerns over his attempt to unmask a whistleblower.
Results from the bank’s annual general meeting (AGM) showed 99.45% of shareholder votes were cast in favour of Mr Staley’s reappointment, leaving marginal opposition to his continued leadership.
The chief executive won the backing of influential advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) ahead of the vote, though it flagged that his reappointment was “not without concern”.
Mr Staley’s attempt to identify a whistleblower in 2016 prompted investigations by City regulators last year.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have since conducted their probe and sent draft warning notices.
Those notices allege that Mr Staley’s actions violated rules that require an individual “to act with due skill, care and diligence”.
The size of the proposed penalty has not been disclosed.
Mr Staley now has 28 days to respond but is not expected to challenge the findings, having said last week that “we accept where they came out.”
His misconduct was also the focus of last year’s AGM when shareholders fired a warning shot at the banking chief.
At the 2017 meeting more than 16% of votes cast failed to back his re-election, with nearly 14% having abstained and 2.4% voting against.
The vote at Tuesday’s AGM was preceded by unanimous support from Barclays’ board, though some shareholders still took time to raise opposition to Mr Staley’s reappointment.
One shareholder told the chief executive: “You should have known better than to bring shame on our bank,” while another asked for Mr Staley to resign.
Chairman John McFarlane retorted by saying that the majority of shareholders disagreed with their take on the whistleblowing scandal.
The regulators are not alleging that he acted with a lack of integrity, or that he lacks the necessary fitness and propriety to continue to perform his role. That is also the position we have taken. Barclays chairman John McFarlane
“The regulators are not alleging that he acted with a lack of integrity, or that he lacks the necessary fitness and propriety to continue to perform his role.
“That is also the position we have taken,” the chairman said.
He said he was “quite interested to hear who in this room has never made a mistake”.
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,” he said, adding that ultimately the allegations were “untrue.”
“Jes regrets his mistake… he does not deserve to resign.”
Mr McFarlane won 95% of shareholder votes cast in favour of his reappointment, with 5% against.