Fired RBS Trader Says He Was Scapegoat for Currency Scandal

  • Ian Drysdale suing RBS for unfair dismissal in London tribunal
  • RBS claims Drysdale shared client orders with rival traders

A former senior trader at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said he was made a "scapegoat" for the bank’s own failures in the currency-rigging scandal and that his firing was premeditated.

Ian Drysdale, who is suing the bank for unfair dismissal, told a London employment tribunal Wednesday that there was no evidence he "maliciously" breached RBS’s policies and he was given no formal training as to what constituted confidential information. RBS claims Drysdale shared private information with members of the notorious “Cartel” chat group and disclosed secret client orders with contacts at rival banks.

"I know I was abiding by the bank’s laws as I interpreted them at the time," Drysdale said. "I believe I was doing nothing wrong and still believe that."

Drysdale is among several foreign-exchange traders suing their former employers in the wake of the benchmark rigging scandals. Cases involving Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch are underway or pending.

In a witness statement released Tuesday, Nicholas Bamber, head of U.K. corporate coverage for debt capital markets at RBS, admitted the electronic chats in which Drysdale’s alleged misconduct took place were not monitored, and that the bank’s policies were not "actively" applied to the foreign-exchange desk.

"Traders and some managers presumed that the chats and calls were actively monitored, but in reality they were not," Bamber said in his witness statement. The "bank’s guidelines were accurate and direct but they were delivered to members of staff in a relatively dispassionate manner through desk-side learning which perhaps limited their impact. It was also apparent these guidelines had not been actively applied to the foreign-exchange desk."

Drysdale is seeking his job back at the bank.

"No other remedy would provide a fair outcome," he said in his statement. 

Damages in U.K. employment cases are normally capped at about 78,300 pounds ($119,000), unless there is a finding of discrimination or the claimant wins status as a whistle-blower. Any traders vindicated at the employment tribunal could pursue unpaid bonuses at the High Court.

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