Barclays calls allegations against former CEO Staley 'serious and new'

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FILE PHOTO: Then Barclays' CEO Jes Staley arrives at 10 Downing Street in London

By Iain Withers

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays has said recent allegations against its former Chief Executive Jes Staley are "serious and new", after U.S. lawsuits alleged he had a close relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and alleged involvement in his sex-trafficking operation.

The British bank said in a notice ahead of its annual general meeting scheduled for May 3 that it had received "no material new evidence" from regulators or law enforcement agencies since Staley left the bank in November 2021.

The notice, published on Friday, said Staley's unvested long-term bonuses remained suspended pending further developments in regulatory and legal proceedings, adding that the board would "consider further action as appropriate".

"The Board's original review, conducted in February 2020, was based on the information it had at the time and representations made by Mr Staley," the notice added.

A lawyer for Staley was not immediately available for comment.

The comments are Barclays' most substantive remarks on Staley since he left the bank in November 2021. Epstein was a former client of Staley's when he previously worked at U.S. bank JPMorgan.

In a statement announcing Staley's resignation at the time, Barclays said the preliminary conclusions of investigations by British financial regulators into how truthful Staley was about his ties to Epstein made "no findings that Mr Staley saw, or was aware of, any of Mr. Epstein's alleged crimes."

The former JPMorgan executive was expected to be deposed last week in the U.S. about his relationship with Epstein and what he knew about his former client's activities related to sex-trafficking.

JPMorgan has accused Staley, its former head of private banking, of "intentional and outrageous conduct" in concealing information about Epstein, with whom he had been friends.

Staley has acknowledged having been friendly with Epstein, but expressed regret for their relationship and denied knowing about the financier's alleged crimes.

Unsealed court documents in February say Staley had a close relationship with Epstein and alleges that emails between the two "even suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein's sex-trafficking operation". It says they discussed Disney characters Snow White and Beauty and the Beast in a series of emails with Epstein, who also allegedly shared photographs of young women with the banker.

Reuters could not determine what "Snow White" or "Beauty and the Beast" referred to in that context.

A separate lawsuit brought by Epstein victims against JPMorgan contains an allegation that Staley had "personally observed" Epstein's abuse of the named plaintiff, known as Jane Doe 1.

(Reporting by Iain Withers; Editing by Bill Berkrot)