Regulators are probing the nature of Staley’s relationship with Epstein, who died last year ahead of a trial on sex trafficking charges.
The relationship between Epstein and Staley is subject to an ongoing enquiry between the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), as well as the description of the relationship by Barclays in an initial response on the matter to the FCA, Barclays confirmed.
Staley maintains he had no contact with Epstein since 2015, after striking up a professional relationship with him earlier in his career.
Before moving to Barclays, Staley worked for JP Morgan running the private wealth division.
In a statement to the stock market, Barclays’ board said it believes Staley has been sufficiently transparent with regards to the nature and extent of his relationship with Epstein.
Probe overshadows profits
The shock investigation took the shine off Barclays full-year results, which were released at the same time.
Statutory profit before tax increased across the group to £4.4bn, from £3.5bn in 2018.
However, the bank’s UK arm suffered a tougher year, with profit before tax at £1bn, down from £2bn in 2018.
Gross lending in the UK 2019 grew to £193.7bn, up from £187.6bn in the previous year, which included a £6.4bn increase in mortgage lending, the bank said.
However, the Net Interest Margin (NIM) shrank to 3.09 per cent, from 3.23 per cent.
Staley said: “Barclays is a British universal bank, with a well-balanced mix of consumer and wholesale businesses, across geographies and currencies: this helps us deliver year-on-year improvements in profitability during a period of macroeconomic uncertainty.
“We continue to believe that it is appropriate to target a return greater than 10 per cent, and we are managing our business to achieve that.
“However, given the low interest rate environment, it has become more challenging to achieve that target in 2020.
“Nonetheless, Barclays is confident of further improving returns meaningfully this year.”