Annual profits

Barclays freezes £22m stock bonuses for ex-boss amid investigation into Epstein links

Barclays has frozen £22million in free share awards to former boss Jes Staley as part of an investigation into his relationship with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The banking giant’s annual report revealed that it had suspended Mr Staley’s unvested long-term free share awards pending regulatory investigation.

He said nearly 70 per cent of long-term incentive plan share awards granted since his appointment in 2015 remain unvested – totaling 11.2 million shares worth around £22 million sterling at current market prices.

Mr Staley resigned last November to challenge findings by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority on how he represented his relationship with Epstein to the bank.

The findings of the investigation have not yet been made public.

He still receives his contractual right to £2.4 million in cash and shares – the equivalent of 12 months fixed salary – as well as a retirement allowance and other undisclosed benefits.

The bank said: “In accordance with its normal procedures, the committee has exercised its discretion to suspend the vesting of all of Mr. Staley’s unearned awards, pending further developments regarding regulatory and legal proceedings relating to the Financial Conduct Authority and ongoing prudential regulation Authorities investigation into Mr Staley.

It came as Barclays revealed pre-tax profits soared to £8.4billion in 2021 after freeing up cash set aside for pandemic loan losses and posting record revenues for investment banks.

The lender more than doubled its profit to £3.1billion in 2020 thanks to the release of £653million in provisions for bad debts, against £4.8billion set aside for loan losses of Covid the previous year.

Its annual report showed Barclays had increased its staff bonus pot to £1.9bn, from £1.6bn in 2020.

Barclays encouraged investors and said it would buy back £1bn of its own shares and raise its dividend for the full year to 4p per share, helping the bank’s shares rise 3%.

The group also announced its first female chief financial officer, appointing deputy group chief financial officer Anna Cross to the role from April 23.

She will succeed Tushar Morzaria, who is retiring after more than eight years in the role, and becomes the first woman to hold one of the bank’s three main board positions.

Mr. Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat, said: “I am proud that we have delivered this resilient performance while continuing to support our clients and customers through another year of Covid-19 challenges. .

He added: “We recognize that the economic environment is more uncertain than usual, with rising inflation rates and tighter monetary policy, while many parts of society continue to recover from the severe effects. social and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The group added that it had “limited” business exposure to Russia as the crisis with Ukraine continues to deepen, having left the country many years ago.

Sophie Lund-Yates, senior equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The ex-CEO’s rewards freeze will be a welcome sign for those disheartened by the ongoing investigation into his conduct.

“However, shareholders do not face such a freeze, with an additional £1 billion buyout announced, as the improving macro outlook has allowed a huge reversal of impairment charges.”