Jes Staley is Now Barclays’s Former CEO

Do a search of this site, and you will find the saga of Jes Staley and Barclays dates back to 2017. As a new CEO of Barclays, Mr. Staley tried to force the unmasking of a whistleblower who had reported concerns about Staley’s recruiting of former JPMorgan colleagues. If you want to undermine an ethics and compliance program, there aren’t many ways better than intimidating employees who report concerns and issues.

Nonetheless, the Barclays board decided to leave Mr. Staley in place. Four months later, Barclays’s chief compliance officer resigned. One year later, in 2018, Mr. Staley paid a personal fine of $868,501 to British authorities for outing that whistleblower. Still, the board allowed him to stay on as CEO.

In 2020, Scotland Yard concluded that Mr. Staley had not been truthful in response to questions about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. The late Jeffrey Epstein (he hung himself while in prison) hosted Mr. Staley on the Epstein island of sin and debauchery. Mr. Staley assured the board and Scotland Yard that his wife was with him and he knew nothing about the underage girls brought to the island by Mr. Epstein. Mr. Epstein was well known in criminal law circles. He had worked out a plea deal with Florida authorities in 2008 on charges of sex trafficking. That level of criminal activity did not stop Mr. Staley and Messrs. Epstein, Bill Gates, Leon Black, and Leslie Wexner from being jolly good friends. But Mr. Staley apparently told the board that he had stopped that Epstein affiliation.

Just two days ago Mr. Staley resigned as Barclays’ CEO because the lack of candor issue emerged again. This mess could have been avoided if Barclays’s board had just sacked Mr. Staley when it had several opportunities documented by the Barometer beginning in 2017.

The best measure of any company’s culture is the company’s response when an executive doing well on the earnings side has messed up. By letting questionable conduct go,the board allowed Mr. Staley to let loose with more genuinely bizarre behavior. This time he had to go — lying to the board gets you the boot or resignation, however they want to characterize it all.

If only the board had seen outing a whistleblower as a serious offense. If only the board had seen in 2018 that their CEO was blind to propriety. If only the board read The Ethical Barometer. Give a shady CEO an inch, and off they go, miles wide and deep into more impropriety and downright creepy behaviors.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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