LONDON – The chief executive of British bank Barclays stepped down Monday following a report by United Kingdom regulators into his past links with the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Jes Staley has previously said he “deeply regrets” his relationship with Epstein, who killed himself at a federal jail in New York in August 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial. There is no suggestion that the 64-year-old Staley knew anything about Epstein's alleged crimes.
Staley said he will contest regulators' preliminary conclusions, which were shared with him and the bank Friday. The report by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority examined the way Staley characterized his relationship with Epstein to Barclays when he was Epstein’s private banker in his previous job at U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan.
Details of the report have not been released, and both regulators have refused to comment.
Barclays said in a statement Monday that the bank and Staley agreed he would resign in light of regulators' preliminary findings and Staley's decision to fight them.
The bank noted that the investigation “makes no findings” that Staley saw or knew about any of Epstein’s alleged crimes, which it said was "the central question” behind its decision to back its chief executive after Epstein was arrested in 2019. It wouldn’t comment further.
Staley said his last contact with Epstein was in fall 2015, when he and his wife sailed to Epstein’s private island for lunch. That trip occurred shortly before he joined Barclays. He said he had no contact with Epstein once he joined the bank in December 2015.
C.S. Venkatakrishnan, head of global markets for the bank, will take over as chief executive. Barclays said succession planning has been in place for some time, and he had been identified as the preferred candidate more than a year ago.
Shares in Barclays fell 2% following the announcement, as Staley had been widely credited with doing a good job at the bank.
Barclays credited him for running the company with “commitment and skill," helping transform operations and improve its results. It added that the regulatory process still has to run its course and that “it is not appropriate” for the bank to comment further on the preliminary conclusions.
Analysts said that Barclays had to act because of the potential damage to its reputation.
"Barclays is right to pull the plug now,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com. “It probably could have done it earlier.”
The bank said Staley will get a 2.5 million pound ($3.5 million) payout and receive other benefits for a year. He also may be eligible to receive repatriation costs to the U.S. and could receive more cash.