Another high-profile businessman bites the dust over ties to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
This time it’s Jes Staley, CEO of the publicly traded U.K. bank Barclays, which has a market value north of $45 billion.
On Monday, the bank announced that Staley, an American, will depart both his role and the corporate board effective immediately, following the “preliminary conclusions” of an investigation by British regulators into how Staley had characterized his relationship with the disgraced financier to Barclays.
Staley, 64, planned to contest the findings, the bank said.
The company’s board, which had previously backed Staley, announced in a statement that it was “disappointed at this outcome,” arguing that “Mr Staley has run the Barclays Group successfully since December 2015 with real commitment and skill.”
The bank added in its statement that “the investigation makes no findings that Mr Staley saw, or was aware of, any of Mr Epstein's alleged crimes, which was the central question underpinning Barclays’ support for Mr Staley following the arrest of Mr Epstein in the summer of 2019.”
According to Reuters, which first reported the resignation, Staley has previously expressed regret for his ties to Epstein.
“I thought I knew him well, and I didn’t. I’m sure with hindsight of what we all know now, I deeply regret having had any relationship with Jeffrey Epstein,” he said last year.
The outlet reported that Staley said he was stepping down to avoid creating a “distraction” for the bank.
The outgoing CEO’s interactions with Epstein have been, at a minimum, a bad look. Bloomberg reported in 2019 that Staley and his wife had visited Epstein’s “Caribbean retreat” in 2015; The New York Times, meanwhile, found that Epstein had referred rich clients to Staley while he worked at JP Morgan in the 2000s. The paper also noted that Staley had visited Epstein roughly a decade ago during his sentence for soliciting prostition from a minor.
“The visit occurred at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach office, where he was allowed to serve part of his 13-month sentence,” The Times said.
Epstein reportedly also helped Staley’s daughter, Alexa, score an invitation to Kimbal Musk’s birthday party in 2012.
Staley joins an ignominious collective of men whose careers have been upended over their alleged Epstein connections. That includes Victoria’s Secret billionaire Les Wexner, whose foundation Epstein helped oversee about two decades ago. Amid the fallout, Wexner recently sold a majority stake in the lingerie brand’s parent company.
Separately, the private equity billionaire Leon Black stepped down as CEO of Apollo Global Management in January after an internal report concluded that he had paid Epstein $158 million over several years “for estate and tax planning advice.”
The British royal Prince Andrew has also been accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting Virginia Roberts Giuffre three times when she was a minor; she has alleged that Epstein trafficked her to London.
The men have all denied wrongdoing.
Pretrial hearings in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly served as Epstein’s “madam,” are currently underway.
As for Barclays, Staley will be succeeded by C.S. Venkatakrishnan (known as Venkat), assuming regulators sign off on the appointment. The company’s board said that it has “had succession planning in hand for some time.”
Barclays shareholders evidently aren’t worried about the shake-up. The stock was down less than 1 percent as of 10:30 a.m. ET on Monday.