Earnings

Barclays reveals its CEO is being probed over links to Jeffrey Epstein

Key Points
  • In a statement issued Thursday, Barclays said the relationship between Staley and Epstein is the subject of an ongoing enquiry from U.K. regulator the Financial Conduct Authority.
  • The British lender also updated investors on its latest results Thursday.
  • It reported a net income of £2.46 billion for 2019, in line with market expectations.
Jes Staley
Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Barclays' Chief Executive Jes Staley is being investigated over his links to Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender who committed suicide in jail last year.

Media reports over the last six months had indicated historical ties between Staley and Epstein. According to Barclays on Thursday, Staley developed a "professional relationship" with Epstein earlier in his career, but they had no contact since Staley joined the British bank in 2015.

In a statement issued Thursday, Barclays said the relationship between Staley and Epstein is the subject of an ongoing enquiry from U.K. regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, and the company had responded.

Barclays also conducted its own review and concluded that Staley "has been sufficiently transparent with the company as regards the nature and extent of his relationship with Mr. Epstein."

As a result, the bank's board has decided to unanimously suggest the re-election of Staley as the bank's chief executive — with the vote due in May at the company's annual general meeting.

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"As has been widely reported, earlier in his career Mr. Staley developed a professional relationship with Mr. Epstein. 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," the bank said in the statement.

"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, an American citizen, began working at Barclays in December of 2015. Prior to that he worked for JPMorgan for more than 30 years and briefly at BlueMountain Capital.

The New York Times reported in July that Epstein had funneled dozens of wealthy clients to Staley which may have helped him take his career to the next level. CNBC was unable to independently verify the report.

Epstein, who had some prominent connections within Wall Street and also famous acquaintances such as the U.K.' s Prince Andrew, was charged with sex trafficking of teenage girls in July.

Epstein was also a registered sex offender as a result of pleading guilty in 2008 to state charges filed in Florida related to prostitution involving an underage girl. He hanged himself in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center in August.

Earnings

The British lender also updated investors on its latest results Thursday. It reported a net income of £2.46 billion for 2019, in line with market expectations. Analysts had forecast a net income of £2.4 billion for the year, according to a Reuters poll.

Going forward, the British bank wants to achieve a return on tangible equity above 10%. However it said that "given global macroeconomic uncertainty and the current low interest rate environment, it has become more challenging to achieve this in 2020."

Staley's pay is also set to increase to £5.9 million this year, from £3.36 million last year. Shares of the British lender are up by 13.4% over the last year but dropped by more than 2% in early European trade on Thursday.

—CNBC's Kevin Breuninger contributed to this article.