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(Reuters) — Former Barclays investor Edward Bramson on Friday questioned how the British bank and its chairman Nigel Higgins vetted its ex-CEO Jes Staley over his earlier business ties to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Activist investor Mr. Bramson said in a letter seen by Reuters that Mr. Higgins had told him that he had never asked Mr. Staley why he did not close Mr. Epstein’s bank accounts at JP Morgan when the late financier was a client of his at the U.S. bank.
Barclays declined to comment on its own behalf and for Mr. Higgins, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Mr. Bramson’s letter, which was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Mr. Staley has acknowledged having been friendly with Mr. Epstein, expressed regret for their relationship and denied knowing about his crimes. A lawyer who represents him declined to comment.
Mr. Staley, who joined Barclays in 2015 and left in November 2021, is contesting the findings of an investigation by U.K. regulators into how he characterized his relationship with Mr. Epstein.
The disgraced U.S. financier, who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, was a JP Morgan client from 2000 to 2013.
Mr. Bramson, who could not immediately be reached for comment, did not specify the date of the conversation he described having with Mr. Higgins in the letter he sent to his investors.
Mr. Bramson, who sold his stake in Barclays at a loss two years ago after failing to convince the bank to enact reforms, also said in his letter that Barclays should assess each of its directors’ actions with regard to the risks posed by retaining Mr. Staley and communicate the findings to the market.
Mr. Bramson and his Sherborne investment vehicle do not appear among Barclays investors according to Refinitiv data, while a spokesperson for the bank said he is no longer a shareholder.
Mr. Staley, who joined Barclays after more than 30 years at JP Morgan, has been named in two civil lawsuits against the U.S. bank for enabling and concealing Mr. Epstein’s network.
JP Morgan, in turn, has sued Mr. Staley over “outrageous” alleged conduct and breaching his duty of loyalty to the bank.
Mr. Staley’s lawyers have dismissed allegations that he hid what he knew about Mr. Epstein as “slanderous” and “false.”