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Coutts Wins Bid to Throw Out Employment Claim by Whistle Blower

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Coutts & Co. won the dismissal of a lawsuit bought by an anti-money laundering expert who said the bank reneged on a job offer when it discovered he had given authorities information about a previous employer.

Judge Hilary Norris threw out the claim at a London employment tribunal today because Martin Woods never worked for the bank and a valid employment contract hadn’t been agreed on.

When working for Wachovia Bank as a money laundering reporting officer in 2008, Woods revealed the extent to which “hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of Mexican drug money,” was being laundered through the bank, he said in his witness statement.

“I’m not the first and won’t be the last person to fall between the cracks,” Woods said after the ruling. “I am drawn to the conclusion that I am too honest to work for that bank. Today the law and the courts have failed me.”

Woods, a former police officer, said Coutts had formally offered him a three-month contract to work on its anti-money laundering team. The offer was later withdrawn with no explanation, he said.

The bank argued Woods was never an employee and didn’t have the right to file an employment tribunal claim.

“We have consistently denied the allegations made by Mr Woods and are pleased with the tribunal’s decision to strike out the claim,” said Caroline Wells, a spokeswoman at Coutts.

Wells Fargo & Co.’s Wachovia agreed to pay $160 million in 2010 to resolve a criminal investigation into how drug cartels used the bank to launder money through Mexican exchange houses.

Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, declined to immediately comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at

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