Barclays is moving forward after recent 'challenges': CEO Jes Staley

  • It has been a challenging year and a half for Barclays, CEO Jes Staley says.
  • "To a certain extent all of that is behind us and now we can look forward to running the bank and executing on our strategy," he says.

It certainly hasn't been an easy time for Barclays over the last year or so, but things are now looking up, CEO Jes Staley told CNBC on Monday.

During that time the bank grappled with legal issues, while Staley also found himself the subject of an investigation.

"The last year and a half has had its challenges," he said in an interview with Wilf Frost on "Closing Bell."

Barclays reduced its head count by 56,000, sold 22 businesses around the world and closed its retail banking business across Africa and continental Europe, Staley said.

On the legal front, Barclays was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice over its mortgage-backed securities business in 2006 and 2007 and was slapped with criminal charges by the British government for alleged unlawful financial assistance to Qatari investors.

In March, Barclays agreed to pay $2 billion to settle the U.S. suit but denied misleading investors about the quality of the mortgage loans backing the instruments and allegations it committed mail fraud and bank fraud.

Across the pond, a British court recently dismissed the charges in the 2008 capital-raising case.

Meanwhile, Staley was fined 642,430 pounds ($870,428) in May by British regulators for breaching conduct rules by attempting to identify who sent letters criticizing an employee of the bank.

The CEO said he felt that investigation was "fair" and "robust" and pointed out that Barclays is a "very complicated, challenging bank."

However, when asked if he ever feared that he may lose his job, he didn't directly respond.

"I feel that it was my obligation to commit my focus and attention to the Barclays shareholders, the Barclays customers and clients," he said.

However, he believes now it is time for the bank to move forward.

"To a certain extent all of that is behind us and now we can look forward to running the bank and executing on our strategy," Staley said, pointing to the bank's "great" first quarter.

For one, the bank gained "significant" market share.

Plus, "our return on equity in the markets business was in double digits in the first quarter," he added. "So, not only did we gain market share, it was quite profitable for us."

Barclays reported a better-than-expected first-quarter pretax profit of 1.7 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) in April. However, fines and legal costs led to a statutory loss.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

WATCH: The full interview with Barclays CEO Jes Staley