Banking on Anonymity

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Banking on Anonymity

April 12th, 2017, Blog

Before June 2013, any whistleblowing disclosure had to be made in good faith under UK law. This requirement was removed in June 2013 although an individual’s motives can be taken into account by a tribunal when assessing compensation.

If the anonymous letters sent to the Barclays Board were, as reported, ‘very simple, very crude and very malicious’ concerning issues of a personal nature against Mr Main, it suggests the issues were not related to financial misconduct, justifying a whistleblowing enquiry, but were related to someone with a personal grudge against Jes Staley.

Given the outcome for Mr Staley ie a written reprimand, substantially reduced bonus and ongoing enquiries from UK and US regulators plus widespread publicity, the anonymous whistle blower has certainly achieved his (or her) objective.

Someone who is motivated by malice should not have the protection of anonymity which is intended for genuine whistle blowers. There has to be a balance, but given the current climate, expect similar cases to follow.

They were ‘very simple, very crude’, and ‘very malicious’, a source close to the matter said, and contained no new information. Nevertheless, Barclays’ compliance team treated them as a whistleblowing matter and set about investigating the letters.

The rules governing whistle blowers stipulate that if an informer asks for anonymity a firm must respect the request. But Barclays’ chairman, John McFarlane, said today that Staley regarded the letters as ‘an unfair attack’ after he received a copy of one, and instructed the bank’s information security team to unmask their author.

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