Barclays said Britain’s financial regulators are probing the historical links between its chief executive Jes Staley and the American financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Mr Staley is under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) over whether he accurately described the relationship between himself and the convicted sex offender during the time the banker ran JP Morgan's private bank.
The bank said its board had looked into media reports on Mr Staley’s professional relationship with Mr Epstein, and probed Mr Staley’s characterisation of that relationship.
Barclays said: "The relationship between Mr Staley and Mr Epstein was the subject of an inquiry from the Financial Conduct Authority, to which the company responded.
"The FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority subsequently commenced an investigation, which is ongoing, into Mr Staley's characterisation to the company of his relationship with Mr Epstein and the subsequent description of that relationship in the company's response to the FCA."
The bank said its board believes Mr Staley has been sufficiently transparent about his ties to Mr Epstein, whom Mr Staley said he had not seen since taking over as Barclays CEO in 2015.
Mr Staley received a bumper pay package of £5.9m in 2019, up from £3.4m a year earlier. The sum was boosted by the vesting of a Long Term Incentive Plan worth £1.5m. His bonus also rose to £1.65m, reflecting the bank’s strong annual performance.
The bank reported a better than expected pre-tax profit of £6.2bn for 2019, as its investment bank reported bumper returns from fixed income trading.
The lender’s profit was 9 per cent higher than 2018 and above the £5.7bn average of analysts’ forecasts compiled by the bank.
Barclays paid a dividend of 9p for the year, compared with 6.5p for 2018.