Saturday 24 February 2018

Barclays CEO Jes Staley fooled into comic email exchange with prankster posing as bank's chairman

Barclays CEO fooled into comic email exchange with prankster posing as bank's chairman. Photo: PA
Barclays CEO fooled into comic email exchange with prankster posing as bank's chairman. Photo: PA

Zlata Rodionova

Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, has fallen victim to a prankster impersonating to be the bank’s chairman.

In an email conversation, which was first reported by the Financial Times, a person pretending to be John McFarlane - using the email address - said Mr Staley owed the chairman "a large scotch" for his defence of the chief executive during the group’s annual general meeting.

Mr Staley on Wednesday faced a gruelling confrontation with shareholders over his attempt to identify a whistleblower. In April, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority announced that they were launching an investigation into Mr Staley after the bank notified them that the CEO had tried to identify the author of two anonymous letters, which were sent to the board and a senior executive in June 2016.

The letters, considered to be whistleblowing, raised concerns about a senior employee who had been recruited by Barclays earlier that year.

In the email exchange, the prankster - reportedly an angry customer described an investor who had spoken out at the AGM as “brusque” and said that the board had “ceased the rally for you [sic] head today.”

“Surely the fickleminded nature of the angry few will help tie up any loose ends,” the fake Mr McFarlane wrote.

Mr Staley replied within 30 minutes, thanking the chairman for defending him.

He wrote: “You are a unique man, Mr McFarlane. You came to my defense today with a courage not seen in many people. How do I thank you?

“You have a sense of what is right, and you have a sense of theatre. You mix humour with grit. Thank you John. Never underestimate my recognition of your support. And my respect for your guile.

The email exchange ended with the prankster sending a poem, the first letter of each line spelling out the word "Whistleblower". But seemingly still unaware of the fact that he was being conned, Mr Staley replied: “Thanks for sharing the foxhole. Best, Jes”.

Barclays declined to comment on the email exchange but confirmed the content was accurate.

On Wednesday, Mr Staley apologised to shareholders for breaking whistleblowing rules.

“I feel it is important that I acknowledge to you, our shareholders, that I made a mistake in becoming involved in an issue which I should have left to the business to deal with,” Mr Staley said.

Independent News Service

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