Barclays Trader Fired Amid FX Probe Is Second to Lose Suit

  • Mark Clark disclosed clients’ trades to rivals, bank said
  • Firing not ‘window-dressing’ to appease regulators, judge says

A Barclays Plc trader fired after disclosing confidential information to rivals and using "laddish" language in electronic chats has become the second currency trader to lose an employment lawsuit against the lender.

Mark Clark, who joined Barclays’ G10 spot desk in 2010, used coded language to identify clients in chats where locker-room style conversations about sport and women were commonplace, judge George Foxwell said in a ruling made public Friday. The defeat comes after his former manager, Chris Ashton, had his case thrown out in September.

Mark Clark

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“I accept that the decision makers believed that the claimant had acted contrary to the bank’s clients’ interests by disclosing net orders in advance of a fix,” Foxwell said. “I am satisfied by the bank’s evidence that conduct was the principle reason for dismissal in this case and not mere window-dressing to satisfy external observers and regulators.”

Clark was the third former Barclays trader to sue following being embroiled in the currency-rigging scandal, after Ashton and Jack Murray said they were singled out and fired to appease regulators. Ashton, the most senior member of the trio, was often in the same chats on the Bloomberg system as Clark and "knew exactly what was going on," said Foxwell.

During his evidence, Clark said he was "thrown to the wolves" while his bosses were allowed to resign or retire with their reputations intact.

Others Escape

"The thought that senior, culpable staff in the same circumstances as the claimant were permitted to escape the sanction of dismissal by virtue of their status is extremely distasteful if true, but I simply have insufficient evidence to find this as a fact in the case," the judge said.

Chats disclosed during the hearing offered a glimpse of trading-floor culture that banks have attempted to eradicate in the wake of repeated scandals. Many of the chats were "coarse and ‘laddish’ with locker-room type discussions of work, home, sport and women," Foxwell said. Others had "unpleasant racist overtones," he said.

The judgment comes two days after another former Barclays currency trader, Jason Katz, appeared in Manhattan federal court where he admitted to participating in a conspiracy with other bankers to manipulate emerging-market currency trades while working at three different financial institutions from 2007 to 2013.

Sympathetic Judge

Natasha Koshnitsky, an attorney at Archon Solicitors representing Clark, said he was "extremely disappointed” with the outcome. The judge "was sympathetic" to Clark, Koshnitsky said.

Clark gave "arguably exculpatory" explanations for his conduct in his testimony that he didn’t give the bank during his disciplinary process, Foxwell said.

In addition, the bank’s findings about the use of unprofessional language were "somewhat sanctimonious" because it was known about in 2012 and "nothing was done at the time," he said.

A Barclays spokesman declined to comment on the decision.

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