KEY POINTS

  • Epstein was found dead in his New York jail cell while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges
  • Epstein was a client of Staley's when the latter headed JPMorgan's private bank
  • Staley said he has been fully transparent about his relationship with Epstein

British bank regulators are investigating Barclays PLC CEO Jes Staley for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was found dead in his New York jail cell last summer while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges, the investment bank said Thursday.

The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s main banking regulator, and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority opened their investigation in December, following an initial inquiry seeking assurances Staley had not be involved in impropriety or lied about his relationship to Epstein.

“The FCA and PRA confirm there is an investigation concerning Mr. Staley. We are unable to comment any further,” the FCA said.

Barclays (BCS) shares were trading lower at midday Thursday.

Questions about the inquiry overshadowed conference call on Barclay’s quarterly results, which showed pretax 2019 profits up 25%.

“It’s been very well known that I had a professional relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. It goes back to the year 2000 when I was asked to run the JPMorgan private bank. And he … already was a client when I joined the private bank,” Staley said.

Saying he regretted the relationship, Staley added: “Obviously I thought I knew him well, and I didn’t. And for sure with hindsight of what we all know now, I deeply regret having had any relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.”

Staley is among a handful of Wall Street financiers linked to Epstein. He visited Epstein a decade ago when the latter was serving a jail sentence in Florida for soliciting prostitution from a minor and listed Epstein as a reference on a license to set up a bank.

The investigation comes less than two years after Staley was fined $848,627 for attempting to identify a whistleblower at the bank.

Barclays said a review conducted by outside lawyers concluded Staley had been transparent about his relationship with Epstein.

 “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,” Barclays said in a 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 chief executive in December 2015.”

 “The board believes that Staley has been sufficiently transparent with the company as regards his relationship with Epstein and should be re-elected,” told the Financial Times. “This will raise questions in investors’ minds, however.”