Jes Staley-1697113251575
Former Barclays' CEO Jes Staley. Image Credit: Reuters

Former Barclays Plc boss Jes Staley has been fined 1.8 million pounds ($2.2 million) and banned from the UK financial services industry after “recklessly” misleading regulators and the bank about his relationship with financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Financial Conduct Authority said Staley privately described Epstein as one of his “deepest” and “most cherished” friends. Yet he allowed Barclays to send a letter to the watchdog that distanced him from the financier, incorrectly stating that he’d ceased contact before joining the bank in 2015, according to the FCA.

“While Mr. Staley did not draft the letter there was no excuse for his failure to correct the misleading statements,” the regulator said in a statement. “Mr. Staley recklessly misled the FCA and acted with a lack of integrity.”

Staley, who resigned from the British lender in 2021 over the probe, is appealing the regulators’ findings at a tribunal.

“If I had known who JE really was, there is absolutely no doubt that I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today,” Staley said in a statement provided by his lawyers. “I am very disappointed by the FCA’s decision and I will continue to challenge it.”

Barclays said in a separate statement that Staley should forfeit a number of awards including his bonus for 2021. Lapsed awards under the long-term incentive plan and forfeited deferred compensation were worth a total of 17.8 million pounds, based on Monday’s share price, it said.

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‘Uncomfortable Truths’

The FCA’s decision comes after years of scrutiny over Staley’s ties to Epstein when he worked for JPMorgan Chase & Co., and what he told Barclays about the relationship when he joined.

Barclays disclosed news of the regulators’ probe to investors in February 2020, but Staley was allowed to continue in his role until November 2021, when the bank were made aware of the FCA’s preliminary conclusions.

“It is right to prevent him from holding a senior position in the financial services industry if we cannot rely on him to act with integrity by disclosing uncomfortable truths about his close personal relationship with Mr. Epstein,” Therese Chambers, joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said in a statement on October 12.

The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority said in a separate statement it supported the FCA’s decision. “It is imperative that senior managers act with integrity and are open and cooperative with the regulators,” a PRA spokesperson said.