Barclays has said allegations that its former chief executive Jes Staley was aware of sex trafficking operations run by the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein were “serious and new”, as it further distanced itself from its ex-boss.
It is the most substantial comment made by Barclays since Staley resigned in November 2021 after a UK regulatory investigation into his relationship with the convicted sex offender, who was one of Staley’s clients when he worked at JP Morgan years earlier.
The comments also signalled Barclays was further distancing itself from its former chief executive, having previously expressed disappointment at his departure.
“The board has noted the recent allegations made in the context of proceedings involving Mr Jes Staley’s former employer, and against Mr Staley himself, in relation to events a few years prior to his joining Barclays. These allegations are serious and new,” Barclays said in a statement released to shareholders ahead of its AGM on 3 May.
It defended its previous review of Staley’s prior relationship with Epstein, which took place in February 2020, saying it was “based on the information it had at the time and representations made by Mr Staley”.
“Barclays itself has received no material new evidence from regulators or law enforcement agencies since Mr Staley left in November 2021,” the bank added.
Two lawsuits aimed at JP Morgan claim Staley “observed victims personally”, including “visiting young girls at Epstein’s apartments”, and exchanged 1,200 emails with the late financier that included photos of young women in seductive poses and referring to women by the names of Disney princesses.
JP Morgan has countered that the lawsuits are “misplaced and without merit”, adding that the “plaintiffs have made troubling allegations concerning the conduct of our former employee, and if true he should be held responsible for his actions”.
The US bank is also suing Staley, saying he should be made liable for any penalties the US bank may face as a result of lawsuits.
JP Morgan is being sued by prosecutors in the US Virgin Islands, where much of the abuse is said to have taken place at a home owned by Epstein on a private island, and also by a woman known only as Jane Doe 1.
Barclays said it was continuing to withhold share-based bonuses that were set to be released to Staley “pending further developments in respect of the ongoing regulatory and legal proceedings, at which point the board will also consider further action as appropriate”.
Staley’s lawyer was contacted for comment.