(Bloomberg) -- Former Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley has long maintained that he cut off his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein once he became boss of the UK bank. Legal documents seen by Bloomberg News claim that he had indirect contact with the late pedophile financier for years after that. 

Staley and Epstein used an intermediary to stay in touch, according to documents that formed part of a now-settled US Virgin Islands lawsuit against Staley’s former employer, JPMorgan Chase & Co. The filings contradict what the executive told the Barclays board about the pair’s relationship, as well as a UK regulatory probe that found no evidence of contact after October 2015. 

The documents suggest the extent to which Epstein and Staley sought to hide their relationship when Staley was made CEO of Barclays. Staley, 67, left the British bank in 2021 over the scandal and was later banned from the UK finance industry for having “recklessly misled” the regulator by allowing the bank’s board to downplay his interactions with Epstein. He is appealing the findings.

Representatives for Staley and JPMorgan didn’t respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Barclays declined to comment.

Email Emissary

Epstein, who died by suicide a month after his arrest on sex trafficking charges in 2019, remains at the center of multiple legal matters over his crimes and wider ties to business and political elites. 

As scrutiny of Epstein’s associates grew, the Barclays board gave its full support to Staley, saying in 2020 he’d been “sufficiently transparent” and that he had confirmed he “had no contact whatsoever with Mr. Epstein at any time since taking up his role.”

According to filings in the JPMorgan case, which have not previously been reported, the go-between — whose identity is redacted in the documents — “acted as an intermediary for messages between Staley and Epstein” for several years after joining Barclays.

Epstein emailed the go-between in November 2016 and February 2017 with questions for Staley. Epstein’s messages were passed on to Staley verbally, before the intermediary passed on his reply, according to the documents submitted by JPMorgan as part of a court filing. The bank, which through Staley served Epstein as a client, settled the case last year for $75 million.

In the first partially redacted email — sent about a year after Staley joined Barclays — Epstein wrote to the intermediary in an apparent attempt to discuss the appointment of the Treasury Secretary in Donald Trump’s incoming administration. 

“Could you ask [REDACTED] if he would like to considered for treasury [sic],” Epstein wrote on Sunday November 27, 2016, weeks after Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

“Will do. He’s on a plane to London right now but I’ll reach him after,” came the reply, according to a document intended to be shown to Staley in his June 2023 deposition. The intermediary later added: “Spoke with him. He said not yet, but thanks.”

The redactions mean it isn’t clear who Epstein is asking about with regard to the Treasury role. 

In February 2017, Epstein emailed the intermediary again, seemingly to get views on Staley’s former JPMorgan colleague. “Can you ask [REDACTED] his opinion of Véronique Weill she wants to join rothschild [sic],” wrote Epstein, according to the documents. “Will do. I will speak with him today and get back to you,” replied the go-between, to which Epstein replied “thx.”

The redactions mean it isn’t clear whose opinion is being sought.

Later that day, the intermediary replied to Epstein: “He thinks she is great and is a big fan of hers. Good recommendation for rothschild [sic].”

Weill, who overlapped at JPMorgan with Staley, left the Wall Street bank to join Axa SA in 2006 and, among other roles, only went on to take a board position at Rothschild & Co. in May 2020.

A spokesperson for Weill said in an emailed statement that “she didn’t know Jeffrey Epstein and she has no knowledge of any such potential approach from him to Jes Staley.”

Separate Case

The documents indicate that the relationship between Epstein and Staley lasted longer than previously known. They seem to have switched to this roundabout method after years of direct email and phone correspondence — the details of which have emerged in subsequent legal and regulatory action.  

Asked last June during a New York deposition in a separate case, Staley said he had cut all contact with him and that he had last spoken to his former friend in October or November 2015. 

“Being CEO of a major British bank is a very, very visible job, and I thought it was not appropriate to deal at all with Epstein in that role,” said Staley, who added that he had come to realize that Epstein had a “very, very terrible past,” according to an excerpt of the deposition released last year.

Last year, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority established that Staley was in frequent contact with Epstein in the months leading up to October 2015, when his Barclays appointment was made public. They discussed Epstein’s wish to change investment adviser, as well as Staley’s prospects with Barclays. 

There were signs the two men became more cautious about their contact. On July 24 that year, Epstein wrote to Staley saying “better if you not email me. phone only,” according to the FCA. Staley subsequently sent blank emails to Epstein with the subject lines: “Call my cell” and “Call me.”

Once Staley was revealed as the next Barclays boss, questions were being asked about his longstanding connections to Epstein. “Ok. I’m going to play is [sic] simple. I’ve known you as a client. I will tell B tomorrow,” Staley wrote to Epstein, though he subsequently told the FCA the email reflected what he planned to tell a newspaper, not what he was going to tell Barclays. 

Staley continued to insist to the FCA that all contact with Epstein ceased once his appointment was made public in October, according to a summary of his representations to the agency. 

His appeal against the FCA’s findings is slated for spring next year.

“We have set out our case against Mr. Staley clearly and will argue it in front of the Tribunal,” the FCA said in an emailed statement. “Given the process is ongoing it is not appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

--With assistance from Katherine Griffiths and Jonathan Browning.

(Updates with FCA response in final paragraph.)

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