Barclays CEO investigated for trying to unmask whistleblower

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The CEO of Barclays bank is being investigated by regulators for his attempts to unmask a whistleblower who had written anonymous letters raising concerns about a senior employee.

Jes Staley had sought to identify the author of the letters but was told it was inappropriate to do so under rules protecting whistleblowers. Staley then sought again to identify the person, even using help from a U.S. law enforcement agency, but failed.

The bank said Monday that Staley had honestly, but mistakenly, believed that he had clearance to identify the whistleblower.

He now faces an official inquiry by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority for his "individual conduct and senior manager responsibilities" related to the company's whistleblowing program.

The bank said Staley will face a written reprimand and a "very significant" adjustment in his pay. The amount will be determined once the official inquiries have concluded.

The incident involves anonymous letters written in 2016 to the board and an executive that raised questions about the recruitment of a new senior employee and Staley's role in the hiring process.

Staley at first tried to use the bank's security team to identify the author, the bank said.

Barclays says the board first learned about the problem earlier this year "as a result of a concern raised by an employee" who questioned the effectiveness of the bank's whistleblowing policy.

It said it used an independent law firm to investigate the allegations and also notified authorities of the possible wrongdoing.

The bank says Staley explained his actions to the board. The statement says the board concluded that Staley "honestly but mistakenly" believed it was permissible to identify the author of the letter.

The bank and Staley will cooperate fully with the investigations. Staley says he accepts the board's conclusion and has apologized.

Staley took over in 2015 after former CEO Antony Jenkins was pushed aside amid concerns about the performance of Barclays' investment bank. Staley began his career as a commercial banker and advanced to head J.P. Morgan's global investment bank.

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