The chief executive of Barclays has been formally questioned by banking regulators more than three months after his efforts to unmask a whistleblower triggered the latest in a string of inquiries into the bank.
Sky News has learnt that Jes Staley was interviewed in recent weeks by officials from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) as they intensify their probe into the scandal.
People close to Barclays confirmed that Mr Staley had been formally quizzed by the two watchdogs, which hope to conclude their investigations later this year.
The meeting between the two sides is likely to prove a crucial element of the two regulators’ inquiries into the affair, which has raised far-reaching questions about Barclays’ commitment to an overhaul of its culture and behaviour after a tumultuous decade.
Mr Staley’s interview took place within weeks of four former Barclays executives – including ex-boss John Varley – being charged by the Serious Fraud Office in relation to its multi-billion-pound rescue fundraisings in 2008.
The whistle-blowing probes are focused on both Mr Staley and his responsibilities under the Senior Managers’ Regime introduced after the financial crisis, and Barclays’ systems and controls, and culture relating to whistleblowing practices.
Mr Staley, who hailed the bank’s half-year results last week as evidence that a turnaround of the bank is bearing fruit despite the reporting of a statutory loss, apologised to Barclays’ shareholders in May for trying to identify a whistleblower.
A letter to the board of Barclays a year ago prompted Mr Staley to seek to identify its author, contravening rules designed to protect whistleblowers’ anonymity.
Despite being told that it was inappropriate to pursue the matter, Mr Staley returned to it several weeks later, when he “honestly, but mistakenly, believed that it was permissible to identify the author of the letter”, according to a statement made by Barclays in April.
A US law enforcement agency was called in to assist with the search, although it ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Barclays said in the spring that its response to the scandal “should be proportionate to its serious nature”, announcing that it would issue a formal written reprimand to its chief executive and reduce his variable pay “very significantly”.
Opinions are divided among Barclays’ leading investors about whether Mr Staley can survive the scandal given the wider questions it raises about the protections afforded to whistleblowers.
Barclays and the FCA declined to comment.