UPDATE 1-Barclays CEO probed over Epstein ties, overshadowing profit gains

Lawrence White and Iain Withers

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LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Barclays on Thursday said Britain's financial regulators are probing the historical links between Chief Executive Jes Staley and the U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The bank said its board had looked into media reports on Staley's professional relationship with Epstein, and probed Staley's characterisation of that relationship.

The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority are investigating. The bank said its board believes Staley has been sufficiently transparent about his ties to Epstein, whom Staley said he had not seen since taking over as Barclays CEO in 2015.

Staley received a bumper pay package of 5.9 million pounds ($7.64 million) in 2019, up from 3.36 million a year earlier. The sum was boosted by the vesting of a Long Term Incentive Plan worth 1.48 million pounds. His bonus also rose to 1.65 million pounds reflecting the bank's strong annual performance.

The bank meanwhile reported a better than expected profit before tax of 6.2 billion pounds for 2019, as its investment bank reported bumper returns from fixed income trading.

The British lender's profit was 9% higher than 2018 and above the 5.7 billion pounds average of analysts' forecasts compiled by the bank.

Barclays paid a dividend of 9 pence for the year, compared with 6.5 pence for 2018. ($1 = 0.7723 pounds) (Editing by Sinead Cruise)