In February 2020, Barclays quietly announced that British regulators were investigating CEO Jes Staley’s nearly 15-year business connection to Jeffrey Epstein. While the head of the United Kingdom’s second-largest bank previously said that he had been “transparent and open” with the convicted sex offender, the inquiry may have found otherwise: After a preliminary version of the report was delivered to the bank on Friday, Barclays announced Monday that Staley would step down as chief executive and from his position on the board, though he plans to challenge the inquiry’s findings.
The nearly two-year investigation focused on Staley’s relationship with the alleged sex trafficker when he was the head of JPMorgan Chase’s private banking division, where Epstein helped feed him rich clients to sign up for exclusive services. Though Epstein pleaded guilty to procuring a child for prostitution in 2008, the bank kept ties with him until 2013. According to the New York Times, Staley even visited him while he was serving time on a work-release program which was part of his lenient plea deal and allowed him to frequently leave prison. Epstein also connected Staley to Glenn Dubin, the former head of the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management; Staley made one of the biggest deals of his career when, in 2004, JPMorgan bought a majority stake in the hedge fund. A decade and a half later, both Staley and Dubin would be forced out of their firms. (Dubin resigned from his hedge fund last year amid reported investor trouble related to his questionable friendship with Epstein.)
The pair are hardly alone in their disgrace: Though Epstein died over two years ago, his high-profile connections are still falling. Earlier this year, Leon Black stepped down from his chairmanship on the board of the Museum of Modern Art and from his position as CEO at the private-equity firm he founded, Apollo Global Management. His retirement came after he requested that Apollo investigate his ties to Epstein, a stab at transparency that found that the billionaire paid a college dropout $158 million for estate advice. Black is also caught up in a civil suit related to Epstein, addressing allegations that he attempted to traffic former model Guzel Ganieva to the financier.
Then there’s Les Wexner, who once owned the parent company behind mall staples like Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Bath & Body Works. Following revelations that he was Epstein’s primary backer (and gave him power of attorney three decades ago), Wexner stepped down as CEO shortly before the company was sold last year.
It’s not just CEOs who have taken the Epstein career hit. Joi Ito stepped down from his position as the director of the MIT Media Lab in 2019 after it emerged that he tried to obscure the source of the million-dollar gifts Epstein was providing to the program. Amid a highly publicized divorce this year, more scrutiny was also placed on Bill Gates’s longstanding relationship with the sex offender — including dozens of reported meetings between the pair between 2011 and 2014 in which Epstein told him to end his “toxic” marriage.”
Last but not least, at least in terms of legal exposure, are alleged Epstein co-conspirators Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell. The Duke of York is currently facing a sexual-assault lawsuit filed in Manhattan by Virginia Giuffre, who alleges that Epstein forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 and he was around 40. Maxwell, who has been in custody since July 2020, will be tried beginning on November 29 on criminal charges that she trafficked underage girls for Epstein.