Barclays shareholders urged to vote against executive pay over 'inadequate' response to whistleblowing scandal

 
Callum Keown
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James E. Staley, Chief Executive Officer
Jes Staley was fined £642,000 and had his bonus docked by £500,000 over attempts to unmask a whistleblower (Source: Getty)

Barclays shareholders have been urged to vote against executive pay plans after the bank’s “inadequate” response to a whistleblowing scandal involving chief executive Jes Staley.


Shareholder advisory group ISS criticised the measures taken by the bank following Staley’s attempts to unmask a whistleblower in 2016 and advised shareholders to vote down the remuneration report at the bank’s AGM on 2 May.

Read more: Barclays fined $15m by US authorities over whistleblower scandal

Staley was hit with a fine of £642,430 and his bonus was docked by £500,000.

A separate investigation by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) also fined Barclays $15m (£11.6m) in December last year but following its conclusion Staley’s fines remained unchanged.


ISS said the penalties to Staley’s pay did not go far enough given the reputational and financial damage to Barclays and the loss of shareholder funds.

A Barclays spokesperson said the board made a significant malus adjustment to Staley’s compensation following an independent investigation and regulator probes and that the NYDFS conclusion “did not reveal any new facts”.

Barclays could also be set to cut bonuses in its investment banking division ahead of its showdown with activist investor Ed Bramson next month, the Financial Times first reported today.

Bramson, whose investment vehicle Sherborne Investors holds a 5.5 per cent stake, has repeatedly called for Barclays’ investment banking division to be scaled back.

Barclays has accepted its investment bank is not performing “at the level which it should” but has robustly attempted to fend off Bramson’s strategy.

But plans have been drawn up to cut bankers’ pay and limit promotions in a bid to boost returns.

Shareholders will vote on whether to give Bramson a seat on the board at the AGM.

In an earlier note issued on Thursday, ISS and fellow shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis sided with the bank.

Read more: Bramson presses investors for Barclays board seat in new letter

ISS said shareholders may be attracted to vote with Bramson due to the bank’s “sustained underperformance” but concluded that he failed to present a “sufficiently compelling case” to warrant change.

But Pirc offered hope to the US-based investor’s campaign by abstaining and even suggesting shareholders could back Bramson at the AGM in 2020.