UK regulators probe Barclays CEO’s link to Jeffrey Epstein

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In this Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 file photo, Barclays CEO Jes Staley participates in the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West on in New York. (Photo: AP)

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley said Thursday that he deeply regrets his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, as the bank revealed that British financial regulators are investigating whether Staley had disclosed the full truth about his ties to the convicted sex offender.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Barclays said that “as has been widely reported, earlier in his career Mr. Staley developed a professional relationship with Mr. Epstein.”

The bank said the two men were acquainted when Staley ran the private banking division of JP Morgan, but that Staley had had no contact with Epstein after joining Barclays in December 2015.

Barclays said the Financial Conduct Authority had asked last year about the relationship, and the company had responded.

But it said the FCA and UK banking regulator the Prudential Regulation Authority were now investigating “Mr. Staley’s characterization to the company of his relationship with Mr. Epstein and the subsequent description of that relationship in the company’s response to the FCA.”

Epstein died in a New York jail in August while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. US authorities ruled the death a suicide.

Since Epstein’s death, his high-powered associates, including US President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew, have been under pressure to disclose what they knew about the hedge fund manager’s interactions with teenage girls, and whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.

Staley said Thursday that he first met Epstein in 2000, when he became head of JP Morgan’s private bank. He said Epstein was an existing client of the bank.

“The relationship was maintained during my time at JP Morgan but as I left JP Morgan the relationship tapered off quite significantly,” Staley said.

He said his last contact with Epstein was in the summer and autumn of 2015, seven years after Epstein was convicted in Florida of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor and a prostitution charge. He served 13 months in a work-release program for those offenses.

“Obviously I thought I knew him well and I didn’t,” Staley told journalists Thursday. “For sure, with hindsight with what we know now, I deeply regret having any relationship with Jeffrey.”

The board of Barclays said Thursday that it retained confidence in Staley and would recommend him for re-election at the bank’s shareholders’ meeting in May.

Barclays shares were down 2.5% at 1.75 pounds ($2.27) on the London Stock Exchange.