Barclays CEO under investigation for attempting to uncover identity of internal whistleblower

Workplace Discrimination Lawyer

After Barclays CEO Jes Staley was caught in his attempt to uncover the identity of an anonymous internal whistleblower, the bank has formally reprimanded Staley and cut his yearly bonus. The case is being investigated by Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority, who are also looking into Barclays’ systems and culture relating to whistleblowing.

The case arose out of an anonymous letter that raised “concerns of a personal nature” about a senior employee, as well as questions about the hiring process for the senior employee and Staley’s involvement in that process. Staley allegedly attempted to use the bank’s security team to identify the author of the letter, and later sought the help of a U.S. law enforcement agency, but his attempts proved unsuccessful.

Barclays’ board was notified about Staley’s attempts to uncover the whistleblower in early 2017, and thereafter initiated an investigation to be carried out by the law firm Simmons & Simmons LLP and Gerry Grimstone, the bank’s deputy chairman.

“The investigation . . . found, and the Board has concluded, that Mr. Staley honestly, but mistakenly, believed that it was permissible to identify the author of the letter,” the bank said. In a statement, Staley accepted the bank’s conclusion that he was at fault in his actions and issued an apology.

Staley’s attempts to identify the author were found to have been in violation of Barclay’s own policy of granting whistleblowers anonymity to protect them from retaliation. In a memo, Staley said that his actions reflected his wish to protect a colleague from an unfair attack.

While the Barclays board is likely to reappoint Staley as a shareholder, his position as CEO, however, may be at risk if the regulators’ investigation rules against Staley. The investigations are likely to continue for several months.