BNP Paribas Currency Head Sues Bank for $6.6 Million Over Firing

  • De Groot wants lost wages, says he’ll have to work until 80
  • Bank’s lawyer says De Groot is exaggerating to get a payout

A BNP Paribas SA director fired during a probe into foreign-exchange market manipulation is seeking more than 5.1 million pounds ($6.6 million) compensation from his former employer, saying he’ll work until he’s 80 years old.

Robert de Groot, the 50-year-old former global head of foreign-exchange spot trading at the French lender, said he was fired to make his own disclosures of misconduct at the bank seem less credible to regulators, according to a witness statement made public Wednesday. De Groot said employees were deliberately inflating swaps data by about $5 billion a day after he joined the bank in 2010 -- a move that would "artificially" increase the bonuses of sales people and their managers, according to his statement.

"I believe my suspension was a means of getting me out of the way and perhaps making me appear to the FCA to be part of the problem so that my very real disclosures could be made to look less credible, significant or serious," De Groot said in his statement.

De Groot joins more than half a dozen traders and sales people to sue their former employers in recent months, claiming they were made scapegoats by banks as they rushed to appease regulators. They have had mixed success, often winning rulings on technicalities because banks didn’t follow proper employment law, but failing to get substantial compensation.

‘Massive Sum’

You “massively exaggerate the scale of your concerns by suggesting they’re tragic or that it involves massive fraud or stealing from shareholders," the bank’s lawyer James Laddie said. "The only reason you’re doing it is because you thought that BNP Paribas wouldn’t fight litigation where those sorts of allegations were being used because they’d be worried about press attention and in the face of that worry would pay out a massive sum of money to you."

Richard Newman, head of U.K. brand and communications at BNP Paribas, said Wednesday that the bank wouldn’t comment on the legal proceedings. BNP Paribas was not among a group of banks that were fined more than $10 billion by regulators for manipulating the foreign-exchange market.

De Groot’s compensation claim is based on his missing bonuses for 2013, 2014 and 2015 and future lost earnings.

Destroyed

"I believe my career has been destroyed,” he said during his testimony. “I would expect as much compensation as the court would be willing to give me. I expect to work until I’m 80 years old."

Compensation at London’s employment tribunals is capped at about 80,000 pounds unless claimants can prove they were victims of discrimination, or were fired for whistle-blowing.

The "consequence of mis-recording was that sales volumes and credits would be artificially increased, benefiting the bonuses of sales people and their managers, while those paid to spot traders and spot-trading management would be lower," De Groot said in his statement. "The shareholders would also normally share in these profits that the salespeople and management were essentially stealing."

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