April 9 (Bloomberg) -- David Longmuir, head of equity sales at OAO Sberbank’s London unit, agreed to step down after being accused of referring to a colleague as “Ms. Cokehead,” according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
Colleagues in Longmuir’s department, all men, created a hostile work environment and displayed “a demeaning and offensive attitude to women,” Svetlana Lokhova alleged in documents from her U.K. employment tribunal claim against Sberbank CIB (UK) Ltd. Lokhova took a leave of absence from Russia’s largest lender in January 2012 and hasn’t returned.
Lokhova accused Longmuir of sending e-mails to clients saying they were “awaiting arriving of Ms. Cokehead,” and “they’ve hired mad Svetlana to do equity sales,” according to her claim. She had left what was then Troika Dialog’s London operation in 2010 and rejoined in 2011. Sberbank acquired Troika in January 2012.
Lokhova sued Sberbank CIB under sexual discrimination, harassment and whistle-blower protection rules. A London tribunal case, which started Feb. 27, is set to last for more than five weeks and includes 15 witnesses. Damages awarded by the tribunal, usually capped at about 70,000 pounds ($107,000), are unlimited in discrimination and whistle-blower claims.
Longmuir, 50, will leave the bank on April 12 by mutual consent, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public. Longmuir, who worked at the company for almost a decade after joining from Renaissance Capital, declined to comment today when reached by Bloomberg on his office phone. Neil McLeod, a spokesman for Lokhova in London, declined to comment by phone.
Sberbank CIB will defend itself and is “confident that it has acted appropriately and lawfully,” Paul Marriott, a spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement, declining to comment further because the matter is being adjudicated.
State-run Sberbank, based in Moscow, argued there isn’t sufficient evidence of unlawful sexual discrimination and said Lokhova was performing badly, according to court papers.
Lokhova didn’t disclose she was setting up a new investment business when she rejoined the bank in 2011, Sberbank said in documents setting out its defense. She resigned from Troika as a fixed-income saleswoman in 2010.
While Longmuir said he made “misguided and unprofessional comments,” it was because he didn’t like Lokhova, not because of her gender, the bank said in its documents.
Colleagues on the desk also circulated e-mails saying she needed to visit tribal leaders in Nigeria to “calm her down,” and included obscene references to sexual acts, according to legal documents.
Lokhova left her first job at the bank after accusing a colleague of illegal front-running, a practice in which traders profit from advance knowledge of a deal, she said in court documents. She said she resigned when she was told that her complaint was “unacceptable” and that Longmuir and other employees “took a dislike to her” because of the incident.
Sberbank alleged that Lokhova engaged in a heated argument with the colleague and lost her temper.
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