There is a continuing investigation into Barclays CEO James E. (Jes) Staley’s attempts to unmask a whistleblower who was critical of Mr. Staley’s hiring of longtime associate at his former bank (JP Morgan) for a top position at the bank. Notice that plural in “attempts.” Mr. Staley was blocked by bank officials once from unmasking the identity of the whistleblower and he made a second run at it through different channels. Mr. Staley has been disciplined financially by the Barclays board for those actions and has issued an apology. However, both U.S. and UK financial regulators are investigating the bank for its treatment of whistleblowers. Mr. Staley is the third CEO at Barclays since the bank’s LIBOR scandal.
Jonathan Cox, Barclay’s global head of whistleblowing, had a dispute with the bank, a dispute that was scheduled to be heard in London this coming week. However, Mr. Cox agreed to withdraw his dispute. Barclays announced both the withdrawal of the Cox dispute along with his departure from the bank. No one is sharing anything about the nature of the Cox dispute or why it was withdrawn or why Mr. Cox is leaving. On the surface, the conclusion in the title is apt: This can’t be good news. Just the fact that the chief of your whistleblower program has an ongoing dispute with your company during a whistleblower investigation tends to speak for itself. The Barometer wonders if anyone has an eye for optics at the bank.
As an aside, there is some sort of U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the so-called “poaching” of JPMorgan execs by Mr. Staley. The status of that investigation remains unclear. Seems the Barclays board could use a frying pan to the head on this third CEO. How many more investigations, resignations, and issues have to arise before the board zeroes in on the epicenter?