Barclays Activist Adds Epstein Subpoena to Campaign to Oust CEO

Barclays Plc’s top shareholder stepped up his campaign to oust Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, pointing to a subpoena that requires JPMorgan Chase & Co. to hand over Staley’s communications with deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Activist Edward Bramson said in a letter sent to his investors this week and seen by Bloomberg News that the request could further damage Barclays’s reputation. Authorities in the U.S. Virgin Islands demanded the information in May from JPMorgan, Staley’s former employer, as part of their investigation into Epstein.

Barclays Activist Adds Epstein Subpoena to Campaign to Oust CEO

Two of their 15 requests specifically asked for Staley’s emails with Epstein when he was an executive at the U.S. lender. USVI officials have sent subpoenas to various banks as well as to billionaire investor Leon Black, looking for information about their business ties to the late financier.

Bramson, whose Sherborne Investors Management LP recently increased its stake in Barclays to almost 6%, has long been skeptical of Staley’s strategy of boosting the bank’s securities unit. The investor intensified his criticism of Staley earlier this year as regulators in the U.K. began scrutinizing Staley’s account of his ties to Epstein.

“The kindest thing the board could do for him would be to let him go,” Bramson wrote in the letter. “The board could then focus strictly on damage control and on the future course of the company.”

Spokesmen for Barclays, Bramson and JPMorgan declined to comment. An official at the Department of Justice in the Virgin Islands, didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

A copy of the subpoena seen by Bloomberg News requires JPMorgan to handle “all communications between James E. Staley and Jeffrey E. Epstein regarding his accounts, services, or transactions,” as well as those involving two Caribbean islands owned by Epstein.

Historic Ties

While Staley’s strategy has been somewhat vindicated after trading revenue surged during the pandemic, he continues to be dogged by his historic ties to Epstein.

The banker has previously said he had known Epstein since 2000, when he was head of JPMorgan’s private bank and told to strike up a professional relationship with the financial adviser. He’s said their relationship began to taper off once he left the American bank in 2013, and ended in 2015 shortly after he visited Epstein’s private island in the USVI while on a sailing holiday with his wife.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.