Signage for Barclays Plc bank branch hangs outside a branch in London, U.K., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Barclays is considering Dublin for their EU base to ensure continued access to the single market, said people familiar with the plans,asking not to be named because the plans aren't public. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
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A US postal official was misled into opening an inquiry to assist British bank Barclays track down a whistleblower, it has emerged.

A report by the US Postal Service’s office of the inspector general found that one of its officials had looked into who had sent Barclays a letter setting out allegations on the basis that it contained “inside information [that] was potentially compromised and leaked”, and after indications that “the letter was a threat to the bank and [ . . .] that the threat involved criminal activity”, according to documents seen by the Financial Times.

The findings continue that had the postal inspector “been aware that the letter pertained to a whistleblower issue”, he “would not have assisted” Barclays in trying to hunt down the identity of the sender.

This is the latest twist in the year-long saga of the whistleblowing case against Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, who faces an investigation by UK and US financial regulators for trying twice to uncover the identity of an anonymous whistleblower in 2016.

Mr Staley’s role is under scrutiny but there are also questions about the bank’s procedures and rules around the protection of whistleblowers. The watchdogs are expected to release their findings in the coming weeks in co-ordinated statements.

The letters were sent anonymously in 2016 to Barclays’ board detailing allegations about Tim Main, a senior Barclays executive hired by Mr Staley. The Barclays boss deemed the letter an “unfair attack” and tried to identify the author.

The US Postal Service became involved when Mr Staley approached Troels Oerting, a former Europol official then running security for the bank, to identify who sent them.

The bank had postage point of sale information and hoped “to obtain security camera images of the transaction, but none existed”, the findings read.

It adds that the postal service was first approached over the Barclays matter by the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance task force. The NCFTA is a not-for-profit organisation that works with agencies such as Europol on cyber security matters. It did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Oerting, who is now at the World Economic Forum, left the bank last year following separate issues over his expenses, Bloomberg News reported earlier on Thursday. The bank declined to comment on his departure. Mr Oerting did not return requests seeking comment.

The US Postal Service inspectorate launched its own probe last year into whether one of its employees had improperly used his official position to assist Barclays in an internal investigation but closed the case last July, finding that the allegation was unfounded.

Its findings were released to Peter Sivere, a former Barclays compliance officer and a longstanding critic of the bank, after he made a Freedom of Information request.

The US Postal Service’s office of the inspector general said: “The office of investigation takes all allegations seriously and investigates them to their fullest.”

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