BNP Paribas Trader ‘Sacrificed’ in Probe Seeks $3.2 Million

  • Philippe de Gentile sues for unfair dismissal in Paris court
  • BNP Paribas paid a $9 billion fine for violating sanctions

A BNP Paribas SA trader fired amid a U.S. probe into sanctions violations asked a Paris employment tribunal for about 2.8 million euros ($3.2 million) days after the same court awarded Jerome Kerviel more than 450,000 euros.

Philippe de Gentile, former head of structured finance in the bank’s Geneva office, was “sacrificed” during a U.S. investigation into allegations that France’s largest bank violated sanctions against Sudan and Iran, his lawyer said.

The 63-year-old De Gentile "was sacrificed simply so that BNP Paribas could give names to the Americans," his lawyer, Chantal Giraud-van Gaver, said at a court hearing in Paris.

BNP Paribas agreed to pay a $9 billion fine in the U.S. after admitting that it processed that amount in banned transactions from 2004 to 2012 involving Sudan, Iran and Cuba. The Paris-based bank had to pay more than other lenders punished for breaking sanctions because its violations were more egregious and it didn’t cooperate fully, prosecutors have said.

Kerviel Case

De Gentile’s case comes amid a slew of tribunal claims brought by bankers fired during regulatory probes. Earlier this week, Kerviel, who was convicted of causing a record $5.6 billion trading loss at Societe Generale SA, won more than half a million dollars in compensation as a Paris judge berated the lender for its role in the affair.

De Gentile was a veteran BNP Paribas employee earning 52,850 euros a month, his lawyer said, drawing a gasp from the courtroom which normally hears cases from mid-level managers making about a 10th of that.  

BNP Paribas said it had never asserted that De Gentile was fired for conduct that led to the U.S. settlement.

“He is responsible for serious acts that went against his contract,” Aurelie Fournier, a lawyer for the lender, told the court. “He is not a scapegoat."

The employment tribunal is scheduled to issue a ruling July 28.

It’s not the first time BNP Paribas has been sued by executives who said they were caught up in the regulatory probes. Christopher Marks, former global head of debt capital markets, won his case against the bank last year after a judge found he was unfairly dismissed a few months before the French lender agreed to pay the $9 billion fine.

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