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Jes Staley, JPMorgan, and the $80m clawback

Jes Staley’s time of cruising around one of the finest wooden yachts ever may be coming to an end. The ex-Barclays CEO and ex-head of JPMorgan’s private bank and wealth management division already had £22m of Barclays bonuses withheld while the bank investigates his links to alleged paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, now he stands to lose $80m+ of his earnings from JPMorgan too.

Staley spent 30 years working for JPMorgan and left in 2013. The $80m refers to his earnings at the bank for seven years until he left. Bloomberg reports that JPMorgan also wants Staley to pay any fines associated with the outcome of two civil lawsuits brought against JPMorgan by one of Epstein’s victims and by the US Virgin Islands.  

Staley has steadfastly denied any knowledge of Epstein’s alleged abuse. JPMorgan’s decision to accuse him of deception and to seek to recoup past compensation marks a dramatic change in approach for the bank which had hitherto supported its former executive. Instead, the bank now says that "his acts of disloyalty occurred repeatedly, lasted for years, and persisted despite numerous opportunities to correct them.”

For 66-year-old Staley, the return of $80m would be a significant dent to his net worth, put by possibly spurious sources at $120m. There are assets to be sold, but not that many: the boat, a Hamptons Estate purchased for $13m a month after leaving Barclays in December 2021. Staley would likely be ruined.  

Is there a precedent for a clawback of this magnitude? Christian Bittar, the former Deutsche Bank Euribor trader gave up around $53m in bonuses when he left Deutsche in 2011 and was subsequently fined a further $17m by the FCA. Bittar, who was 46 at the time, was sentenced to five year in prison in 2018, but was let out early for good behaviour.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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