markets

Ex-JPMorgan FX Salesman Back in Court Over Unfair Dismissal

Updated on
  • Ktorza begins retrial after JPMorgan won appeal last year
  • Ktorza alleges he lost $2.8 million when suspended in 2014

A former JPMorgan Chase & Co. currency salesman is fighting his dismissal for a second time after the U.S. bank overturned a verdict in his favor last year, as the fallout from the global foreign-exchange manipulation scandal drags on.

Patrice Ktorza, 45, a former executive director at the U.S. bank, began a retrial of his unfair dismissal suit at a London employment tribunal Tuesday. After winning the case in 2016, an appeals court reversed the decision in May on the basis that the original judge to a “significant extent started from his own findings of fact and opinions.”

The tribunal heard on Tuesday from Scott Wacker, the bank’s former head of FX sales for EMEA, who wasn’t at the original trial. Wacker said he conducted training on the bank’s FX policies, which included the practices at issue in Ktorza’s case, in April and May 2014. Ktorza attended the session, according to a note Wacker has with initials of those present. Ktorza said he has no recollection of being at the training.

Ktorza was suspended in November 2014 for partially filling a trade, a practice the bank stopped salespeople from doing after a review in the wake of the foreign-exchange manipulation scandal. Banks “short fill” or “partial fill” an order when they’re unable to fulfill the total value of a client’s request at the required rate. JPMorgan banned salespeople from short filling without the approval of a trader in an effort to prevent them from taking risks.

“If he did not know that this practice had been disallowed then he was not paying attention,” Wacker said in his witness statement. “I don’t really know what more we could have done to get the message across.”

‘Entirely Possible’

Under cross-examination by Ktorza’s lawyer, Wacker said it was “entirely possible” Ktorza could have been called away during the training. He also said that at the start of 2014 he didn’t realize salespeople were short-filling trades and there was nothing in writing stipulating this practice would amount to gross misconduct. But, he said, it was clear from all the training the bank had deployed. Wacker wasn’t involved in Ktorza’s dismissal.

"I do not specifically recall the training session which the claimant attended but I am as certain as can be that he did attend," Wacker said in his statement.

Wacker left his role in October 2014 to become global head of e-commerce sales and marketing. He said he was "surprised" to learn about Ktorza’s dismissal. He told the tribunal the training he’d given in spring 2014 was to get a "jump start" on a more formal training program being rolled-out across the bank called "Project January." The project was a mandatory training program for all sales and trading staff in corporate and investment banking.

Almost a dozen foreign-exchange traders and sales people have sued their former employers in the past few years, claiming they were made scapegoats by banks rushing to appease regulators amid the scandal. Global banks have paid about $10 billion to resolve investigations related to the manipulation of key currency benchmarks that benefited firms at the expense of their clients.

Ktorza said during the original hearings that his suspension left him anxious and isolated and eventually cost him 2 million pounds ($2.8 million).

Even if Ktorza is successful, his winnings won’t come close to covering the alleged loss. Compensation for an unfair dismissal claim like Ktorza’s is capped at about 80,000 pounds. Winnings are only uncapped if claimants can prove they were victims of discrimination, or were fired for whistle-blowing.

(Updates from seventh paragraph with more detail from witness.)
    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE