Barclays CEO Staley Emails Prankster Posing as Chairman, FT Says

Updated on
  • CEO apologized this week for mishandling whistle-blower case
  • McFarlane’s ‘fearlessness’ on guitar lauded by bank chief

Staley 'Not Vindictive' After Pursuing Whistle-Blower

Jes Staley, the Barclays Plc chief executive officer warding off criticism for attempting to ferret out the identity of a whistle-blower, responded to emails from an impostor pretending to be Chairman John McFarlane, the Financial Times reported on its Alphaville blog.

The sender, who used the address, criticized a Barclays shareholder who had sought to oust Staley at the London-based lender’s annual general meeting on Wednesday. The CEO, who was re-elected to the board, responded with praise for McFarlane, 69, citing his “grit” and comparing his “fearlessness” on the guitar to that of Eric Clapton.

Staley, the bank’s CEO since McFarlane hired him in late 2015, has faced calls to resign since the lender publicly reprimanded him last month for persisting with his pursuit of a whistle-blower after being told it was inappropriate. The chairman on Wednesday compared the incident to a driver running a red light, saying it wasn’t a firing offense and that Staley has “learned his lesson.”

“You are a unique man, Mr. McFarlane,” Staley wrote. “You came to my defense today with a courage not seen in many people. How do I thank you?”

Will Bowen, a spokesman for Barclays in London, confirmed the contents of the emails and declined to comment further. He said Staley and McFarlane were unavailable to comment.

“You have a sense of what is right, and you have a sense of theater. You mix humor with grit,” Staley wrote. “Thank you John. Never underestimate my recognition of your support. And my respect for your guile.”

Electronic correspondence has caused problems for some of the world’s biggest banks, often emerging as evidence for regulators pursuing suspected wrongdoing. Fake emails can also pose a security risk as cyber-criminals contact top corporate executives and trick them into divulging personal details, Bloomberg reported in October.

Barclays was down 0.3 percent at 205.95 pence at 8:57 a.m. in London trading. The stock has declined 7.9 percent this year.

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