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United Kingdom regulators fine Barclays chief for whistleblowing failure

United Kingdom regulators fine Barclays chief for whistleblowing failure

The FCA and Prudential Regulation Authority have fined Barclays boss James Staley a total of £642,000 over his treatment of a whistleblower at the bank.

"Mr Staley breached the standard of care required and expected of a chief executive in a way that risked undermining confidence in Barclays' whistleblowing procedures", said the FCA's Mark Steward.

Brad Birkenfeld, a former UBS banker whose whistleblowing led the Swiss bank to be fined $780m for USA tax fraud, told Financial News: "It is blatantly clear Jes Staley violated several contractual and legal standards in the United Kingdom and in Barclays".

The American banking executive admitted previous year that he had "made a mistake" by attempting to find out who authored an anonymous letter that raised concerns about a senior Barclays employee.

The bank's "whistleblowers' champions", who come under the SMR, will also have to attest personally each year on the soundness of Barclays' whistleblowing systems.

Staley agreed to settle at an early stage of the investigation, qualifying for a 30 percent reduction to the combined FCA and PRA fine, the regulators said.

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The regulatory fine is the first ever such penalty for the sitting CEO of a major bank in Britain, and cast a pall over Staley's efforts to show the bank has improved its culture since the freewheeling days of before the 2007-8 financial crisis.

"Protection for whistleblowers is an essential part of keeping the financial system safe and sound", Sam Woods, the CEO of the PRA said in a statement on Friday.

However, a lot of people still feel that Mr Staley should have lost his job over the affair, as it was the first big test of the Senior Managers Regime - a new set of rules put in place following the financial crisis to ensure that executives of big financial institutions are made personally accountable for their actions in the job. "Staley's behavior fell below the standard we require, resulting in today's fine and public censure".

"The Board takes Barclays' culture and the integrity of its controls extremely seriously", said Barclays chairman John McFarlane.

The investigation by the UK FCA and PRA found Staley had a conflict of interest in relation to the letter. The board has reiterated its support for Jes, as have shareholders at last week's Annual General Meeting.


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