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Barclays freezes former boss’s share bonuses amid Epstein links probe

The banking giant has suspended all of Jes Staley’s unvested long-term bonus share awards pending a regulatory investigation.

23 February 2022

Barclays has frozen millions of pounds in bonus share awards made to former boss Jes Staley amid an investigation into his relationship with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The banking giant’s annual report revealed it has suspended all of Mr Staley’s unvested long-term bonus share awards pending the regulatory probe.

It said almost 70% of these share awards granted since he was appointed in 2015 remain unvested.

Mr Staley stepped down last November to contest findings by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority over the way he represented his relationship with Epstein to the bank.

He still receives his contractual entitlement to £2.4 million in cash and shares – the equivalent of 12 months in fixed pay – as well as a pension allowance and other undisclosed benefits.

The bank said: “In line with its normal procedures, the committee exercised its discretion to suspend the vesting of all of Mr Staley’s unvested awards, pending further developments in respect of the regulatory and legal proceedings related to the ongoing Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulatory Authority investigation regarding Mr Staley.”

It came as Barclays revealed that pre-tax profits soared to £8.4 billion in 2021 after it released cash set aside for pandemic loan losses and notched up record investment banking earnings.

The banking giant more than doubled profits from £3.1 billion in 2020 thanks to the release of £653 million in bad debt provisions, compared with £4.8 billion set aside for Covid loan losses the previous year.

The better-than-expected results also showed that the group’s corporate and investment banking division recorded its highest-ever pre-tax profits of £5.8 billion over the year, up from £4 billion in 2020.

Its annual report showed Barclays increased its bonus pot for staff to £1.9 billion, up from £1.6 billion in 2020.

The group also announced its first female finance director, appointing deputy group finance director Anna Cross to the role from April 23.

She will succeed Tushar Morzaria, who is retiring after more than eight years in the post, and becomes the first woman to hold one of the top three boardroom jobs at the bank.

The figures come after a difficult year for the bank, with new chief executive CS Venkatakrishnan thrown into the role last November after Mr Staley’s shock resignation.

Mr Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat, said: “2021 is the year in which Barclays demonstrated the results of the strategy we set out in 2016.”

He added: “I am proud that we have delivered this resilient performance while continuing to support our clients and customers through another year of Covid-19 related challenges.

“We recognise that the economic environment is more than usually uncertain, with rising inflation rates and tighter monetary policy, while many parts of society continue to recover from the severe social and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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