Barclays CEO Apologizes for Link to Jeffrey Epstein as Investigation Is Launched into Their Relationship

The chief executive of Britain's Barclays bank has apologized for his association with the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as an investigation into the two men's ties began.

The American-born executive, Jes Staley, 64, has been with Barclays since 2015. He is currently under investigation from the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) for his ties to Epstein, who died in a Manhattan prison cell last year while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges.

"Obviously I thought I knew [Epstein] well and I didn't," Staley told journalists on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. "For sure, with hindsight with what we know now, I deeply regret having any relationship with Jeffrey."

According to The Guardian, Staley first met Epstein in 2000 when Staley worked for JPMorgan Chase. The newspaper said the two men maintained a relationship after Epstein was convicted for soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008. This is evidenced by the fact that Staley met with Epstein in Florida while Epstein was out of prison on work release in 2009.

Furthermore, Staley said that he had last seen Epstein in the summer and fall of 2015, months before he took his job at Barclays in December that year, according the New York Post.

"I feel very comfortable that, going all the way back to 2015, I have been very transparent," Staley said, according to The Guardian.

The AP reported that Barclays said that the FCA inquired last year about the relationship between Staley and Epstein and that the company had responded.

Barclays later released a statement saying the FCA and PRA were now investigating Staley's "characterization to the company of his relationship with Mr. Epstein and the subsequent description of that relationship in the company's response to the FCA," according to the AP.

The Guardian reported that less than two years ago Staley was "personally fined" nearly £650,000—approximately $848,800—for trying to reveal the identity of a whistleblower at Barclays.

Nevertheless, the board of Barclays said Thursday that it would recommend Staley for re-election as chief executive at a May meeting of the bank's shareholders, the Post reported.

Epstein's death in August 2019 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City was ruled a suicide. However, some, including at least one New York City medical examiner, have said the evidence and circumstances surrounding his death indicated a killing rather than a suicide.

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Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley attends the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on October 10, 2019, in New York City. Jim Spellman/Getty