LONDON, April 13 (Reuters) - Britain's financial watchdog
this week spoke to senior executives at the country's top banks
to stress the importance of protecting whistleblowers after the
head of Barclays sought to unmask one, sources familiar with the
matter have told Reuters.
The executives were asked to ensure staff are aware of the
regulations and they have the necessary procedures in place to
protect any whistleblowers, according to the sources, who asked
not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The Financial Conduct Authority declined to comment as did
Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds
Banking Group, and HSBC.
The calls to the banks are a sign of how seriously the
regulator is taking this issue and show concerns that other
banks may not have enforced the policy, one of the sources said.
"They didn't want to be caught with their trousers down and
to find out that no one is really enforcing the rules," said a
senior executive at one of Britain's largest banks.
Earlier this week, Barclays said it had reprimanded Chief
Executive Officer Jes Staley and would cut his bonus after he
twice attempted to identify the author of a letter that revealed
"concerns of a personal nature" about an unnamed senior
The Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England's
Prudential Regulation Authority, which vetted Staley's
appointment as CEO, are investigating the bank and Staley to see
what other penalties might be warranted.
The case has raised concerns about how much the culture at
large banks has really changed since the 2007-2009 global
financial crisis, when misconduct by bankers led to a slew of
lawsuits and regulatory probes.
Since then banks have been at pains to demonstrate they have
mended their ways.
Measures at Barclays, for example, have included a series of
training programs reinforcing conduct policies, changing
employee performance measurements to better emphasise conduct
and having CEO Staley write several internal memos about the
importance of the bank's reputation.
Lawmakers have likewise tightened their scrutiny, demanding
banks make clearer who is accountable for executives' behaviour
and strengthen protections for those who call attention to
Former JPMorgan banker Staley's attempts to hunt an internal
whistleblower down will become a test case for whether these
claims of reform are more than lip service, lawmakers and
lawyers said this week.