Authorities in the United States of America have imposed a $15m (£11.87 million) fine on Barclays over its attempts to unmask a whistleblower two years ago which was led by Jes Staley, the chief executive of the bank.
An investigation that was conducted by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) discovered that Staley personally informed the head of security of the bank to try to identify the author of two whistleblowing letters in an effort to protect a colleague from unwanted publicity.
In doing this, he formulated “an atmosphere in which employees might doubt that it was safe to escalate issues of concern to the bank,” said Maria Vullo, an investigator.
NYDFS said that the bank had some “shortcomings in governance, controls and corporate culture relating to its whistleblowing function.”
It said that the said shortcomings allowed “a sequence of events that potentially could have had a detrimental impact on the efficacy of Barclays’ whistleblowing program.”,
The DFS has also informed the bank to produce a plan for the improvement of its internal controls and compliance program that are designed to make sure that the whistleblowers are protected.
Barclays said that it had agreed to the fine and the writing of the plan. It also said that it would “undertake additional reporting and remediation undertakings in respect of its whistleblowing programme.”
However, the regulator did recognise that Staley had taken “commendable and constructive steps” in order to accept responsibility for his actions and apologise to the employees.
The ruling said that his motivations for attempting to unmask the whistleblower were “to protect a senior executive, who was a friend and colleague, from unwanted and unfair publicity, and to defend his own ability as chief executive to continue recruiting high-level hires of his choosing.”
Tim Main was identified as the senior executive. He was a former colleague at JPMorgan Chase. The whistleblower had alleged Staley of attempting to cover up the problems in the personal life of Main when he was hired by Barclays.
Staley has already faced a fine pf £642,430 that was imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom last May, and had his £500,000 bonus withheld by the bank for the same matter.