RBS Trader Fired in Currency Probe Wins Suit, But No Money

  • RBS failed to follow the correct process before firing trader
  • Judge awards no damages as Drysdale was guilty of misconduct

A former senior trader at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc who lost his job amid the currency market rigging scandal won part of an employment lawsuit, but received no compensation because a London judge said he would have been fired anyway.

Ian Drysdale was fired for plotting with members of the “Cartel” chat group and sharing secret client orders with contacts at rival lenders, according to testimony from the bank’s executives during the trial at a specialist employment tribunal.

Ian Drysdale
Ian Drysdale
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

“He, along with a number of others, was doing something he knew was fundamentally wrong,” Judge James Tayler said in a ruling dated Dec. 7. While serious procedural failings by RBS made the dismissal technically unfair, “it is not just and equitable that he receive compensation.”

Six banks paid a total of $4.3 billion in penalties to global regulators to settle a probe into allegations they colluded to fix benchmarks used to value currencies, with Edinburgh-based RBS paying $634 million for its role. As part of the 2014 settlement, officials released transcripts from online chat rooms where traders calling themselves “the 3 musketeers” and “the A-team” shared client orders and attempted to manipulate rates.

Unacceptable Behavior

“We are pleased that the tribunal has ruled that Ian Drysdale’s conduct and behavior was completely unacceptable in a number of different ways and that no compensation will be payable to him,” RBS said in a statement.

Carol Davis, a lawyer for Drysdale, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone call seeking comment. The trader sued RBS saying there was no evidence he “maliciously” breached its policies and he was given no formal training on what constituted confidential information.

Judge Tayler’s ruling outlined a number of training sessions attended by Drysdale, who had 30 years experience trading currencies. He also backed the bank’s arguments that the reasons for Drysdale’s dismissal weren’t “contrived.”

Drysdale is one of several traders to challenge their former companies in London’s employment tribunals in recent months. Traders have met mixed results at the tribunal, with some winning claims of unfair dismissal, but failing to win rulings that they were penalized for blowing the whistle on improper conduct, which would have allowed them to seek recoveries beyond a 78,300-pound ($115,000) cap on recoveries.

Ex-Citigroup Inc. trader Perry Stimpson won his case in November after the bank fired him during its probe into currency market manipulation. Another Citigroup trader, Carly McWilliams, started her trial at the tribunal in London Tuesday.

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