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Barclays CEO Jes Staley Gets Spoofed

May 11, 2017

[Photo: Bloomberg News]


On Wednesday evening, Barclays Chairman John McFarlane exchanged emails with Barclays CEO Jes Staley. Except it wasn’t Chairman McFarlane who wrote those emails – it was a prankster posing as the Chairman – and the prankster subsequently shared the entire thread of emails with The Financial Times. In doing so, he told the newspaper that the email was part of his “battle with Barclays” over a customer issue. 


Earlier that day, the pair – McFarlane and Staley - had weathered a stormy annual shareholders meeting, where Staley was sharply criticized for his well-publicized efforts to unmask a bank whistleblower. The Chairman came to Staley’s defense and helped Staley win reelection as Chief Executive for another year.


Perhaps Staley should have been suspicious of the email letter(s).  The prankster sent the emails using a Gmail account ( and a subject line that read: “The fool doth think he is wise.” However, Staley readily accepted the email and was quicker to respond, given the enormous support he had received from Chairman McFarlane - an individual with a reputation for ousting chief executives.  


The initial email referred to Michael Mason-Mahon, an individual shareholder who called for Mr. Staley to resign at Wednesday’s annual meeting, “as brusque as he is ill informed” and went on to reassure Staley that together they had successfully seen off any attempt to force Mr. Staley out.


“Surely the fickleminded nature of the angry few will help tie up any loose ends,” the short email concluded. “You owe me a large Scotch.”


Staley responded "in effusive terms," the FT said, likely because of McFarlane's reputation for ousting chief executives. "You have a sense of what is right, and you have a sense of theatre," wrote Staley. "You mix humor with grit."


[For a read of the full thread of emails - verified by the Financial Times as genuine, click on ‘The fool doth think he is wise’. Otherwise, go to the link below.]