Barclays boss set for shareholder grilling at AGM

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Jes Staley.
PA

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Jes Staley has apologised for his actions

Barclays shareholders are to vote on whether to re-elect Jes Staley to the bank’s board, amid controversy over his role in a whistleblowing affair.

It will be the first time Mr Staley has faced investors since it emerged he attempted to find out the identity of a whistleblower at the bank.

He has apologised and referred himself to regulators over the issue.

However, some investors say they will not support his re-election at the firm’s annual general meeting.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), an influential shareholder advisory group, has told investors to abstain in the vote, citing concerns over “his personal involvement and accountability” in the controversy.

The group’s members hold around a quarter of the bank’s shares.

The Barclay’s board has already pledged to dock Mr Staley’s pay, possibly by as much as £1.3m, or all of his annual bonus.

It also supports Mr Staley’s re-election, having described the chief executive’s role in the affair as “an honest mistake”.

While he is expected to be re-elected to the board, investors will be watching the margin of the vote closely.

Shareholders will also be voting on the remuneration of top executives, with some set to oppose what they see as excessive pay packages.

Corporate governance body Pirc, which advises many of the largest institutional investors on how to vote, has advised investors to vote against the bank’s remuneration report.

It said Mr Staley’s pay last year was 49 times higher than that of the average Barclay’s employee and therefore “inappropriate”.

Pirc also advised shareholders to vote against the bank’s future plans for rewarding executive staff.

Whistleblowing claims

The controversy surrounding Mr Staley dates back to June 2016, when Barclay’s board members and another senior executive received anonymous whistleblowing letters.

These raised concerns of a personal nature about a senior employee who had been recruited by Barclays earlier that year, as well as about Mr Staley’s role in dealing with those issues at a previous employer.

Mr Staley subsequently asked Barclays’ internal investigation team to try to identify the author of the letters, which he felt had made unfair personal attacks on a colleague.

He later told the Barclays board he had been trying to protect the individual who had experienced personal difficulties, but admitted he got “too personally involved”.

The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority are now both investigating the matter.

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