Jes Staley is stepping down as Barclays’ chief executive following a regulatory investigation into the way he described his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
In a statement on Monday, the bank said it was made aware of the results of the investigation by UK financial regulators the FCA and PRA on Friday and that: “In view of those conclusions, and Mr Staley’s intention to contest them, the board and Mr Staley have agreed that he will step down from his role as group chief executive and as a director of Barclays.”
It added: “It should be noted that the investigation makes no findings that Mr Staley saw, or was aware of, any of Mr Epstein’s alleged crimes, which was the central question underpinning Barclays’ support for Mr Staley following the arrest of Mr Epstein in the summer of 2019.”
UK regulators opened an investigation into the links between Staley and Epstein last February after receiving a cache of emails supplied by JPMorgan Chase.
The emails between the two men — dating back to Staley’s time as an executive at JPMorgan when Epstein was a client of the bank — suggested their relationship was friendlier than claimed by Staley, who had categorised the association as professional.
The emails were provided by JPMorgan to US regulators, who passed them to their counterparts in the UK.
Epstein was until 2013 a key client of JPMorgan’s private bank, which Staley used to run.
Staley developed a relationship with Epstein and visited the sex offender’s island on his yacht in 2015.
Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges that he sex-trafficked underage girls.
The FCA and PRA said on Monday they did “not comment on ongoing investigations or regulatory proceedings beyond confirming the regulatory actions as detailed in the firm’s announcement”.
Staley will be replaced by CS Venkatakrishnan, head of global markets at the bank and a former chief risk officer.
The Financial Times last year reported that Barclays was preparing to start the search for a new chief executive after Staley, 63, said privately he expected to leave the group by the end of 2021.
But those plans were pushed back by the pandemic, though the bank promoted two of Staley’s former JPMorgan colleagues, Venkatakrishnan and Paul Compton, in a reshuffle a year ago as part of succession plans.
The investigation into Staley’s relationship with Epstein has been a consistent distraction for the banker and for Barclays since it was launched last February.
Barclays was the subject of a campaign by activist investor Edward Bramson, which called the situation surrounding the Staley and Epstein “a destabilising . . . circus”.