An activist hedge fund that has repeatedly criticized Barclays called on the British bank’s board on Monday to withdraw its support for its chief executive, James E. Staley, over his ties to the financier Jeffrey Epstein.
In a public letter, the investment firm, Sherborne Investors — which says it is now the biggest single shareholder in Barclays — said renominating Mr. Staley as a director was “extremely ill-advised.”
The call by Sherborne is the latest point of pressure on Mr. Staley for his yearslong relationship with Mr. Epstein, who killed himself in August after facing new allegations of sex trafficking of underage girls.
Last month, Barclays disclosed that British banking regulators have been examining how Mr. Staley had described his business ties to Mr. Epstein, which dated back to his role as the head of JPMorgan’s private banking business.
“A board that tolerates such conduct, whether occurring in the present or in the past, is also an enabler of that act,” Sherborne wrote in the letter. “Any shareholder that votes for a director in these circumstances would also be an enabler.”
Mr. Staley has said that he had no contact with Mr. Epstein after becoming the chief executive of Barclays in 2015. Barclays said in a statement last month that it believed Mr. Staley had been “sufficiently transparent with the company” about his ties to the financier, and that its board retained full confidence in him.
Sherborne has agitated for change at Barclays in recent years, arguing that Mr. Staley’s strategy for the bank is flawed, and last year unsuccessfully campaigned for a seat on the bank’s board.