A senior investment banker at Credit Agricole SA sued the French lender for millions of pounds, claiming he missed out on bonuses and was dismissed for reporting colleagues under whistle-blowing rules.
Edward Willems, former deputy head of fixed income markets at Credit Agricole’s corporate and investment banking unit, was “subjected to detriment as a result of making protected disclosure,” his lawyer Tom Croxford told a London employment tribunal today.
Willems’ bonuses in 2010 and 2011 were “inappropriately low” because of the whistle blowing, Croxford said, without describing the conduct he reported. Willems “is seeking millions of pounds,” Credit Agricole’s lawyer Nicholas Randall said at the hearing this morning.
While most wrongful dismissal damages are capped at about 72,000 pounds ($114,000), employment tribunals can award unlimited amounts in whistle-blower cases. Samantha Mangwana, an employment lawyer at Russell Jones & Walker who isn’t involved in the case, said she has seen several whistle-blowing claims in the financial industry, often for large sums when bonuses are involved.
Employees are protected by U.K. law from being fired or punished if they reveal malpractice in the public interest. The conduct could be “improper, illegal or negligent behavior by anyone in the workplace,” according to a guidelines published on a British government website.
Jean-Yves Hocher, the chief executive officer of Credit Agricole’s investment banking unit, and Guy Laffineur, the former global head of fixed income markets, are scheduled to appear as witnesses during the 11-day trial.
Meriel Schindler, one of Willems’ lawyers, didn’t respond to an e-mail requesting comment. An e-mail to Credit Agricole’s press office wasn’t immediately answered.
Most cases settle before trial, Mangwana said.
“Instead of thanking the whistle blowers for sticking their necks out to avoid financial malpractice, all too often reprisals are suffered and litigation commences,” she said.