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Citigroup wanted workers to share client orders, ex-trader says

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 22:00
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Citigroup Inc executives encouraged foreign-exchange traders to use electronic chat rooms to share client orders with employees of rival banks, a practice that forced finance companies to pay US$10 billion in regulatory fines, according to evidence presented to a London employment tribunal.

[LONDON] Citigroup Inc executives encouraged foreign-exchange traders to use electronic chat rooms to share client orders with employees of rival banks, a practice that forced finance companies to pay US$10 billion in regulatory fines, according to evidence presented to a London employment tribunal.

Carly McWilliams, a London-based trader fired during a probe into the currency-rigging scandal, said executives were aware of how the foreign-exchange desk operated long before the scandal attracted the attention of regulators, according to evidence read in court on the first day of her employment suit. Jerome Kemp, the Citigroup executive who fired McWilliams, denied the claim in court Tuesday.

"The bank has encouraged precisely what it now complains of," McWilliams said in an e-mail to the bank's HR department before her disciplinary hearing on May 7, 2014.

McWilliams is one of several traders to sue their former employers in London's employment tribunals in recent months, after banks suspended dozens of people who were subject to regulatory probes. Last week Shivani Mathur, implicated in the Libor scandal, began her case against Deutsche Bank AG. Ian Drysdale, a former Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc trader fired for colluding with members of a chat group nicknamed the 'Cartel,' won his case, although the judge did not award him damages.

McWilliams is the second former Citi trader to sue the bank over unfair dismissal, with Perry Stimpson winning his case in November. The bank is taking no chances this time, sending 10 lawyers to a preliminary hearing on Monday, a move that "must be a record," judge Alison Russell said.

Citigroup said McWilliams was fired after its own investigation found she had "engaged in misconduct." "Individual accountability continues to be important to Citi and for that reason we are defending Ms. McWilliams case in the tribunal," the bank said in a statement. "We expect our employees to adhere to the highest ethical standards."

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