Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recommended Barclays shareholders re-elect all of its board members, but admitted that “questions may be posed” over the board’s decision to back disgraced ex-CEO Jes Staley between 2019-2021.
ISS argued that it was too soon to make a judgement on the board’s actions regarding Jes Staley, suggesting that investors wait for the result of the various investigations taking place in the matter.
“Although it is accepted that the Board could only have acted based on information available to it at the time … given how recently events have unfolded, it may be sensible to defer any attempt at answering such questions until further news emerges from ongoing investigations,” ISS said.
Staley stepped down in November 2021 after regulators in the UK said Staley had “mischaracterised” his relationship with Epstein to Barclays and the regulators.
In January this year a US lawsuit, filed against JP Morgan, accused Staley of “personally observ[ing] the sexual abuse of young women” by Epstein.
In March, Barclays distanced itself from Staley, arguing that the allegations against Staley were “serious and new”.
However, the bank defended its previous review of Staley’s relationship with Epstein, which took place in February 2020, saying it was “based on the information it had at the time and representations made by Mr Staley”.
“Barclays itself has received no material new evidence from regulators or law enforcement agencies since Mr Staley left in November 2021,” the bank added.
ISS also said there may be “some scope” for further cuts to executive pay, but in the end decided to back the board’s remuneration policy as well.
It argued the penalties which have already been paid were “substantial” and so deserved “qualified support”.
ISS’ support for the proposals comes shortly after fellow shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis advised shareholders to vote against the bank’s remuneration policy, arguing it was too generous to ex-CFO Tushar Morzaria.
Although Barclays docked £1m from the pay of its top executives in February, Morzaria was still receiving around 70 per cent of his pay package.
“We believe shareholders could reasonably have expected the committee to further reduce this award to better reflect the financial and reputational impact of the risk and control issues over the period,” Glass Lewis wrote in a report on Barclays.
Barclays will host its AGM on May 3rd.