Court battle looms as Barclays drags its heels on demand from US prosecutors: When will bank let lawyers see its ex-boss’s messages to Epstein?
Silent: We revealed a fortnight ago the questions to ex-Barclays chief Jes Staley
Barclays faces a court battle over the information it holds on the relationship between its former boss and the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
US prosecutors are chasing the bank for all the correspondence between Jes Staley and Epstein that it has – as well as the details of the bank’s own investigation into the pair’s relationship.
Lawyers working for the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned a Caribbean retreat, want the information as part of a civil case against the deceased sex offender’s estate. Any damages secured will be used to fund compensation claims for the scores of Epstein’s victims.
Barclays has so far refused to supply the information, even though Denise George, attorney general of the US Virgin Islands, has petitioned it for the information in New York and informally approached Barclays in London.
Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal the bank faces the prospect of a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice to answer George’s claim.
She is seeking a court date from a little-known division of the Royal Courts that processes requests for evidence from foreign powers.
George is chasing information from Staley because he acted as Epstein’s private banker while working for JPMorgan between 2000 and 2013. It is thought that Staley could have vital information about Epstein’s finances.
The MoS revealed earlier this month that the US Virgin Islands has also petitioned Staley directly for information – and has even asked him if he received a ‘massage’ on Epstein’s estate.
Young women were routinely coerced by Epstein to perform sex acts in his massage room.
Staley can avoid responding to the legal demand, also known as a subpoena, if it has not been served on him in person. The subpoena intended for Staley was filed at a court in the US Virgin Islands in October 2020. But a source close to Barclays said Staley had not yet received the legal demand.
Staley could be served with the subpoena if he repatriates to the US following his departure from Barclays. He has stepped down as chief executive to contest claims by UK regulators that he played down his relationship with Epstein.
Barclays is on the hook for the cost of Staley’s resettlement. The bank and Staley’s personal representatives would not confirm his whereabouts this weekend. George has applied for help from the UK courts after getting no joy from requests for information through the New York courts.
However, the US Virgin Islands faces waiting many months before it gets a date for a hearing. Sources told the MoS that prosecutors may need to launch an intense lobbying effort to secure a hearing. Lawyers working for the US territory may have to badger civil servants and court officials to line up a date, the sources said.
The court will appoint an examiner to oversee proceedings if the US Virgin Islands succeeds in getting a hearing date. Any eventual hearing could also be recorded on video.
Lawyers said Barclays may be able to resist handing over information even if there is a hearing. Barclays has the right to guard any communications with the company or external lawyers. Its internal investigation of Staley’s ties to Epstein was carried out by law firm Clifford Chance. The bank may also be able to redact emails and investigative reports.
The US Virgin Islands has stressed the importance of getting the documents quickly in its application to the Royal Courts of Justice. Chief deputy attorney general Carol Thomas-Jacobs has written to the senior master at the Strand in London saying the documents must arrive in a ‘sufficiently expedited time frame’ to meet the discovery deadline of the case. The request has been signed off by senior US judge Kathleen Mackay.
George has launched a civil case against Epstein’s estate seeking damages for breaking laws against human trafficking, child abuse and sexual abuse. She has asked for documents that relate to a series of explosive charges facing Barclays. She is also trying to work out whether Epstein lobbied Barclays’ bankers to get Staley in the top job, and wants details of any meetings between the two men.
Prosecutors are also asking for all documents relating to the account of Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who is due to stand trial on sex abuse charges this month.
Maxwell had an account until last February. George wants to understand all of the transactions that have gone through the account, any communications between Barclays bankers and Maxwell, and the details of any investigations the bank conducted into Maxwell.
A spokesman for Barclays said: ‘Barclays will respond to that subpoena once it is served.’
Jes Staley’s spokesman said: ‘Mr Staley intends to contest the initial findings of the FCA and PRA investigation. He will not be making any further public statements at this point.’