Ex-Citigroup Trader Says Currency Exchange Truth to Be Heard

  • Stimpson says senior management was aware of conduct
  • `Information sharing' was widespread, ex-trader says at trial

A former Citigroup Inc. currency trader let go amid a global probe into foreign-exchange rate rigging said on the first day of his unfair dismissal trial that he would expose the “truth” about the bank’s conduct.

Perry Stimpson told a London court that the "information sharing" that resulted in his dismissal was widespread across the bank’s trading desk. He also said that senior management was aware of the conduct and is now being protected by the bank.

"I’m not here to mudsling, I’m here so the truth about foreign exchange at Citi is heard once and for all," Stimpson said. "Senior management responsible for a lack of control were afforded anonymity. I see that as being unfair."

Stimpson’s case is the first of a rash of wrongful termination lawsuits related to currency exchange manipulation to be heard in London. Banks have paid out more than $10 billion in fines over the scandal, with criminal investigations in the U.S. and the U.K. still pending.

At least 30 traders at a number of banks have been fired, suspended or put on leave in the last two years since the scandal was uncovered. Former Citigroup currency traders Carly McWilliams, David Madaras and Robert Hoodless have also filed unfair dismissal suits against the bank.

Bank Culture

"I’m trying to get to the point of the culture of the bank at that time and what was allowed and what wasn’t allowed and what was condoned," Stimpson said at the trial, which is scheduled to last four days. "My actions were normal across the industry” and at the bank, he said.

New York-based Citigroup rejected Stimpson’s allegations and said that he was dismissed for serious breaches of his contract.

The bank’s internal probe into the foreign exchange-rigging allegations uncovered at least 12 occasions in which Stimpson "appeared to share client confidential information with traders at other banks," according to Citigroup documents prepared for the trial. "He had also taken steps to deliberately conceal such disclosures."

Jerome Kemp, the Citigroup executive who fired Stimpson, said the former trader claimed during a June 2014 disciplinary hearing that he shared "market color" with other traders in an attempt to understand movements in the market.

Right Decision

"I considered there to be a difference between sharing generic ‘market color’ as against disclosing the identity of specific clients and information about their trading activities to other traders at other banks," said Kemp, global head of futures, clearing and collateral. Firing Stimpson "was absolutely the right decision," he said.

Traders at HSBC Holdings Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc have also filed complaints. Some of the individuals were fired because of alleged behavior unrelated to currency rigging discovered as a result of the bank probes.

Damages in employment cases are normally capped at about 78,300 pounds ($120,500), unless there is a finding of discrimination or the claimant wins status as a whistle-blower.

For more, read this QuickTake: Broken Benchmarks

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