Sooner or later, every rich and powerful individual who has been publicly linked to deceased financier/blackmail artist/pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is going to face some repercussions, particularly if they stayed in contacted with him after his first conviction back in 2008.
Now it looks like it's Jes Staley's turn.
Barclays disclosed during Thursday's earnings report that financial regulators in Britain, including the Financial Conduct Authority (the British equivalent of the SEC) and the Prudential Regulation Authority, are investigating the bank's CEO over his 'friendship' with Epstein.
The regulators are investigating "Mr. Staley's characterisation to the company of his relationship with Mr. Epstein and the subsequent description of that relationship in the company's response to the FCA."
Shareholders have nothing to worry about, the bank insisted, because Staley has been 100% transparent about the relationship since Epstein's arrest last year. Epstein committed suicide in August - or at least that's the 'official' story. Many suspect that the financier was secretly murdered by one of the many powerful people in his orbit, and this belief has since become one of the most widely accepted 'conspiracy theories' in the US, the AP reports.
Barclays said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that "as has been widely reported, earlier in his career Mr. Staley developed a professional relationship with Mr. Epstein." Since joining Barclays in December 2015, Staley hasn't had any contact with Epstein, the bank said.
It added that Staley maintains "the full confidence of the board."
"Mr. Staley retains the full confidence of the board, and is being unanimously recommended for re-election at the annual general meeting," the London-based bank said in a statement.
Regulators said they are looking into Epstein's "characterization" of his relationship with Epstein when he gave information to the bank and regulators last year. Staley has insisted that he had no contact with Epstein in the years prior to his arrest.
"Earlier in his career Mr. Staley developed a professional relationship with Mr. Epstein," the bank said. "In the summer of 2019, in light of the renewed media interest in the relationship, Mr. Staley volunteered and gave to certain executives, and the chairman, an explanation of his relationship with Mr. Epstein. Mr. Staley also confirmed to the board that he has had no contact whatsoever with Mr. Epstein at any time since taking up his role as Barclays Group CEO in December 2015."
Staley met Epstein when the Barclays chief was still working at JP Morgan, where he ran the US megabank's private banking division. According to CNBC, Staley reportedly went to visit Epstein in Florida after he had been convicted, and that his final visit with Epstein occurred in mid-2015, when Staley traveled on Epstein's yacht.
At least Staley was able to package the Epstein news (reminding shareholders of your connection with a notorious pedophile is never a good look) with some good news: the bank managed to hit its profitability targets for 2019 - it hit its return on tangible equity target of 9%.
But Barclays also delivered a cautious outlook for 2020, joining the chorus of companies warning about the potential economic blowback of the coronavirus outbreak.