Barclays chief executive Jes Staley has been fined £642,430 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for his attempt to unmask a whistleblower.
Mr Staley was fined by the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which concluded that he failed to “act with due skill, care and diligence”.
The regulators are also forcing Barclays to report on how it handles future whistleblowing cases. Senior managers will be required to update the watchdog on their systems and controls every year.
Mr Staley tried to identify the author of a letter sent to Barclays in 2016 which claimed to be from a shareholder of the bank.
The letter contained a number of allegations, some of which related to Mr Staley.
Regulators said on Friday that Mr Staley should not have tried to investigate the letter himself because there was a risk he would not be impartial when deciding how to respond.
The complaint in the letter was being dealt with by Barclays’ group compliance team. The regulators said the team should have been left to do their work unimpeded by the chief executive.
Protection for whistleblowers is an essential part of keeping the financial system safe and sound.Sam Woods
The City watchdog said his actions showed “serious errors of judgment”.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “Given the crucial role of the chief executive, the standard of due skill, care and diligence is more demanding than for other employees.
“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.”
The regulators noted that Mr Staley made no personal gain from his actions, and said he settled at an early stage of their investigation.
His fine represents 10% of his annual income, and the settlement brought down his fine significantly, from a possible sum of £917,800.
Sam Woods, deputy governor for prudential regulation and chief executive of the PRA, said: “Protection for whistleblowers is an essential part of keeping the financial system safe and sound.
“Mr Staley’s behaviour fell well below the standard we require, resulting in today’s fine and public censure.”
On top of the regulator’s fine, Barclays plans to cut Mr Staley’s bonus for 2016 by £500,000.
Chairman John McFarlane called it a “significant” adjustment to the chief executive’s pay, in a year in which he earned a total of £4.2 million.
“The board takes Barclays’ culture and the integrity of its controls extremely seriously.
“The group’s whistleblowing processes are fundamental to ensuring that individuals feel comfortable raising concerns and are encouraged to do so,” he said.
“Having considered the findings of the FCA and PRA, the board remains satisfied with its conclusions.”
Mr McFarlane added that he was pleased that the regulatory investigations “are now behind us”.
Mr Staley said he said he accepted the regulators’ decisions as well as those of the board.
“I have consistently acknowledged that my personal involvement in this matter was inappropriate, and I have apologised for mistakes which I made.”
Barlcays said it continues to provide information and cooperate with US authorities in regards to the whistleblowing incident.