BGC Partners Inc. was sued by a broker who said his manager sent racist e-mails including one depicting him as a Simpsons character, and favored white employees when allocating work on new products and clients.
Ramesh Kumaran, who worked for the brokerage for a decade, said he was made to work in a “humiliating environment” after his manager, Boris Lefebvre, sent an e-mail to colleagues depicting him as Apu from the television cartoon “The Simpsons.” Kumaran’s claims were part of his witness statement presented on the first day of his trial at an employment tribunal in London Wednesday.
“I was shocked that my manager would send material which went beyond the norms of acceptable banter and had such significant historical racial connotations, especially as I could see him sniggering when he sent it,” Kumaran said in his statement. Managers “consciously permitted racist imagery to go unpunished.”
Schona Jolly, a lawyer for BGC, told the employment tribunal Kumaran failed to meet his monthly revenue target of $60,000 during all but three months during his 2 1/2 years working for BGC in London. Kumaran was told he would work on inflation, or RPI, swaps “and that’s it,” she said.
Kumaran urged Lefebvre to fire weak brokers during his first 10 days on the desk, Jolly said while quizzing Kumaran Thursday.
Kumaran was “extraordinarily arrogant” in the way he “dealt with others on the desk,” Jolly said.
“What you’re trying to do is retrospectively take what was normal conversation, banter and decent relationships and twisting it to suit your case,” she said.
“I’m an aggressive, proactive broker, I’m not going to deny that,” Kumaran said.
A spokeswoman for BGC said that neither the company nor Lefebvre would provide additional comment.
BGC has been successful in previous employment tribunal disputes, winning a suit a year ago filed by a former broker who refused to take part in an initiation ritual requiring brokers to run across the trading floor while others threw water at them.
Kumaran said in his witness statement that he was so successful that BGC allowed him to “globe trot and build desks.” During a five-year period, he personally generated annual revenue of $3 million and earned partnership shares of $2.7 million, he said in the witness statement.
He moved to BGC’s inflation desk in London from Switzerland in 2012, expecting to expand the number of products he worked on, but was overlooked by Lefebvre in favor of less experienced colleagues “on the basis of race and color,” he said.
He also says he tried to tell the company about unethical trading that was “whitewashed” by management, according to his witness statement.
BGC declined to comment.