Limelight: Former Barclays executive Jerry del Missier with wife Jane
A former Barclays executive has been engulfed in a race row after managers at his Tanzanian luxury resort allegedly called staff ‘black monkeys’.
Jerry del Missier, one of the bank’s highest earners who quit under a cloud in 2012 over the Libor interest rate rigging scandal, bought The Tides Lodge on the Indian Ocean in 2014.
But the 59-year-old Canadian – a close ally of Bob Diamond while at the British lender – faces claims he failed to intervene amid allegations of racism and bullying at the £260-a-night resort. The local police chief issued a summons for one of the white managers del Missier had installed, and the events threaten to thrust del Missier back into the limelight several years after he had to leave Barclays.
Del Missier worked at the bank for 15 years and became known as one of the ‘three musketeers’ – along with Americans Diamond and Rich Ricci – who built up the investment banking arm Barclays Capital.
But del Missier and Diamond, who by then was chief executive, were forced out within hours of each other in 2012 after Barclays was fined a record amount for trying to manipulate inter-bank lending rates.
Nine months later they were followed by Ricci, the multi-millionaire racehorse owner.
And Diamond and Ricci were named during a High Court battle between the bank and financier Amanda Staveley, which finished this year.
Former executive Stephen Jones was forced to resign as the UK’s top banking lobbyist after sexist emails emerged in which he called Staveley ‘thick as s*** with big breasts’, and top dealmaker Roger Jenkins, whose office nickname was ‘Big Dog’, was forced into a grovelling public apology for calling her a ‘dolly bird’ and a ‘tart’.
Del Missier was cleared by regulators for his role in the Libor scandal, and he walked away with a ‘staggering’ pay-off worth almost £9million, on top of a package in 2010 reportedly worth £47million, which made him the bank’s best-paid deal broker.
Now fresh allegations against del Missier threaten to cast him once again into an unfavourable light.
The sorry tale began in 2014 when he bought a majority stake in a Tanzanian coastal resort called the Tides for around £340,000.
Racism storm: The £260-a-night beachside resort where managers allegedly called staff ‘black monkeys’
He and his wife Jane, a former engineer, already owned an adjacent villa, bought after she fell in love with the east African country.
To convince the resort’s owner, James Balfour, to sell he told him he wanted to help the village community, was following the Buddhist faith and enjoyed yoga.
But after two new managers, Willem and Karla Pelser, were appointed to run the resort in 2017, staff accused them of bullying, racial abuse and unfairly sacking workers. Willem was said to call himself the ‘white Mugabe’ to strike fear into the staff.
Grayson Joelkirumba, a 40-year-old father-of-four, said he was racially abused in 2018 when a fire broke out. He said: ‘Willem shouted at us. He said: “You, black monkey, run”.
‘He chased us and called us the same name several times.’ He added that he had emailed del Missier, and his agent who helped manage the investment, with his allegations but he says nothing was done.
One email from February 2018, sent by Balfour and seen by the Mail, informed del Missier: ‘What is of even greater concern is the disgraceful and racist language the managers have been using to the staff calling them “f***ing monkeys”. The night security staff have already been to the police about this.’
By 2019, the situation had become so serious, a letter addressed to del Missier was released accusing the managers of ‘harassment’, ‘discrimination’ and ‘calling villagers monkeys and dogs’.
Del Missier was known as one of the ‘three musketeers’ – along with Americans Diamond (left) and Rich Ricci (right) – who built up the investment banking arm Barclays Capital
The police summoned Willem Pelser over the claims made in the letter, but discontinued the case. As the pandemic hit the east African tourism industry, the multi-millionaire chose to halve their pay in the pandemic reducing the lowest paid to a shade above the World Bank poverty line of $1.90 per day, staff claimed.
Del Missier said he conducted an internal investigation and commissioned an independent report from a Tanzanian law firm into the racism claims. But the law firm did not interview staff until February last year – two years after del Missier was first made aware of the claims.
Its February 2020 report didn’t find ‘direct evidence’ of abusive language but said the Pelsers were overly harsh in their treatment of staff.
The Pelsers said claims of racism and intimidation were ‘fabricated’, that they left the country because they feared for their safety and that the letter from the village alleging racism was faked.
As the pandemic hit east African tourism, the decision was made to put the company into liquidation, resulting in around 30 redundancies.
Suphiani Musakuwanda, 42, a security guard at the Tides for 17 years, had to take his children out of school. He said: ‘Jerry can afford to help, it’s not like he’s not able to pay. He just doesn’t care.’
Balfour, who was a minority investor until the business went under, said: ‘In our first meeting Jerry convinced me that he was the right person to take on the business. Then his banker hat came back on, and he became a hard-nosed a***hole.’
A spokesperson for del Missier said: ‘At no point did those overseeing Mr del Missier’s investment and operations of the Tides, nor any other authority, find any evidence to corroborate allegations made against the management couple in question.
‘This was reinforced by statements from the local chief of police and village authorities as part an independent investigation carried out by a local law firm, which was commissioned by Mr del Missier to get to the bottom of the hearsay. In fact, that investigation uncovered fraudulent behaviour regarding one of the claims.
‘Throughout his time of ownership, Mr del Missier has gone above and beyond to both support the loss-making enterprise and its employees, including during Covid when the resort was closed and there was no government support plan.
‘It is his honestly held opinion that claims of any failings on his part are part of a very obvious smear campaign on the part of the minority investor – James Balfour – who is seeking leverage to buy back the resort out of administration.’
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