* Activist renews calls to cut investment bank
* Bramson criticises CEO’s Epstein ties
* Bramson’s board seat bid defeated at AGM (Adds further details)
By Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White
LONDON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Sherborne Investors renewed its campaign for change at Britain’s Barclays, in which it is the third biggest shareholder, on Tuesday in a letter criticising its strategy and CEO Jes Staley’s links to U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Barclays this month disclosed it is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority over Chief Executive Staley’s past links to Epstein, who killed himself in August while awaiting trial in the United States on sex trafficking charges.
Sherborne CEO Edward Bramson said in a letter to Barclays shareholders, which was seen by Reuters, that the fallout was “another example of governance weakness that has led, inevitably, to the recurrent public disappointments and embarrassments which have plagued Barclays”.
Staley has said he regrets having any relationship with Epstein, telling reporters earlier this month that he did not know the U.S. financier’s real nature.
The regulatory probes focus on whether Staley was honest in his characterisation of that relationship.
Barclays declined to comment. It has previously said that Staley never engaged or paid fees to Epstein to advise him or provide professional services.
The inquiry is the second regulatory investigation into Staley’s conduct in recent years, after the FCA and PRA fined him 642,000 pounds in 2018 for trying to identify a whistleblower who sent letters criticizing a Barclays employee.
Bramson also renewed his long-running calls for Staley to cut back Barclays’ investment bank, which makes lower returns than other parts of the business.
It has been around a year since Bramson met with Barclays Chairman Nigel Higgins to discuss his concerns, he added.
Bramson’s efforts to secure a board seat at Barclays were defeated in a vote at its annual shareholder meeting last year.
Sherborne Investors holds 5.47% of Barclays shares, Refinitiv Eikon data shows. (Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White; Editing by David Evans and Alexander Smith)