Barclays has revealed a jump in annual profits to a record £8.4billion and that share awards currently worth around £22million to former chief executive Jes Staley have been frozen , as he challenges the findings of a regulatory investigation into his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
The bank confirmed a story by Sky News on Tuesday when he said the board had decided not to allow the long-term equity awards to vest as planned, but did not rule out granting the awards in the future.
Mr. Staley left Barclays in November last year after he and the bank were briefed on the preliminary findings of the investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
He looked at how Mr Staley had characterized his historic business relationship with Epstein at Barclays from when he ran the private banking arm of JP Morgan.
The investigation, launched after Epstein died while awaiting trial in 2019, did not discover that Mr Staley saw or knew of any of Epstein’s sex crimes, Barclays said last year.
The bank said on Wednesday that its annual results could be credited to Mr. Staley’s tenure.
Profits nearly tripled from the £3.1bn made in 2020.
Performance was driven by lower charges on bad loans – after almost £5bn was set aside last year – with £700m of that sum now released.
It also cited strong performance from its investment banking arm during the year.
Barclays revealed a £1.9bn bonus pool and said it would buy back £1bn of its own shares and raise its annual dividend to 4p per share.
The shares rose almost 3%.
John Moore, Chief Investment Officer at Brewin Dolphin, said: “The bank is now ahead of what it was before the pandemic in terms of share price and the release of the write down is a sign of confidence in its loan book.
“The increased dividends and share buyback program are rewards for patient shareholders, and the sentiment of optimism in today’s statement suggests there could be more to come.
“Barclays is in a strong position and, with a more diversified revenue base, appears to be one of the best positioned among the major UK banks.”
Mr Staley was replaced by CS Venkatakrishnan – known as Venkat – who signaled at the time that he supported his predecessor’s strategy – including its investment banking division.
Barclays has confirmed that its long-serving chief financial officer, Tushar Morzaria, has decided to retire, with his deputy Anna Cross due to take on the role from April.