‘I made a mistake’ over whistleblower says Barclays’ Jes Staley

Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Barclays chief Jes Staley has admitted he "made a mistake" after his attempts to unearth the identity of a whistleblower resulted in regulatory investigation, according to Reuters reports.

Staley also said that he did not offer resignation to the board and is "cooperating fully" with investigators but maintains that efforts he made to identify a whistleblower who made allegations about a recently-recruited senior employee were not intended to breach regulations.

Both Staley and Barclays are currently under investigation by the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and New York's Department of Financial Services is also looking into Staley's behaviour regarding the events which were alleged to have taken place in June.

Staley had tried to identify a complainant after what he saw attempts to "maliciously smear" the reputation of his new hire, according to internal emails referenced by The Guardian.

The FCA has the authority to ban individuals if they are deemed to be unfit to work in accordance with banking regulations. It also has the power to issue fines and reprimands.

Barclays shares were trading down 5.29 percent at 212 pence ($2.74) in morning trading Friday.

Earlier this month, Staley apologized to the Barclays board and promised to accept whatever sanction the board deemed appropriate. ""I have apologized to the Barclays Board, and accepted its conclusion that my personal actions in this matter were errors on my part. I will also accept whatever sanction it deems appropriate," Staley had said in a statement.

The Barclays Board found Staley had "honestly, but mistakenly" sought the identity of the letter's author without appropriate governance. The whistleblower was not identified by the Barclays boss and the board accepted his apology.

Reports however state that Staley can expect a "very significant reduction" to his variable compensation award.

Meanwhile, ISS, a proxy advisor to many large shareholders, has recommended that its members abstain from a vote over Staley's re-election, though it has not opposed it at the bank's upcoming annual general election meeting next month.

Fellow governance advisers Glass Lewis and PIRC have both recommended his re-election. Earlier this month, Barclays chairman John McFarlene in a statement said that he was both disappointed and apologetic that this situation had occurred. However, he supported Staley's re-election to the board.

"Taking into account both the circumstances of this matter and his otherwise exemplary record since joining Barclays, including contributing significantly to improvements in Barclays culture and controls, Jes continues to have the Board's unanimous confidence and it will support his re-appointment at Barclays Annual General Meeting on May 10, 2017," McFarlane added.

Staley's comments come as the bank reported a doubling of first quarter pre-tax profits Friday.

Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

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