The unfair dismissal
hearing of a second former Citi FX trader has been told that the bank
encouraged its traders to “build and maintain two way relationships with traders
at other banks in order to gain information about market flows and colour”.
In her witness
statement read to the East London Employment Tribunal, Carly McWilliams
claimed, “This was part of our set goals.”
The hearing started
earlier this week and was told McWilliams was dismissed
for sharing customer information in electronic chat rooms, a practice that she
said was commonplace in the American bank and accepted by her superiors.
The tribunal saw written evidence from
Jerome Kemp, the global head of futures and OTC clearing at Citi, which
highlighted 21 instances between February 2010 and February 2013 where,
according to the bank, McWilliams had used Bloomberg chat rooms in breach of
the bank’s codes of conduct and had shared client confidential information.
However McWilliams counter claims that, “My
dismissal was instigated by the bank’s need to fire a number of traders in the
wake of the global investigation into FX rate fixing and market manipulation.”
She also told the tribunal
that the bank enforced impossible standards of perfection and was
retrospectively condemning practices it had encouraged in the past, such as
sharing confidential client orders with traders at other firms.
Managers at the bank
testified that traders were encouraged to build relationships with rivals, but it
was noted they were forbidden from sharing information relating to orders. McWilliams
argued, however, “It goes without saying that a
relationship is a two-way street, so in order to gain information, we also had
to give some.
“My dismissal is
overwhelmingly harsh and inappropriate, given that the alleged offenses were
nothing other than normal practices of my everyday job at the time, that were
encouraged, condoned, required and indeed rewarded by management,” she added.
McWilliams also highlighted a practice first
raised by Perry Stimpson in his unfair dismissal case last year when she
claimed that “seniors” dealt ahead of known client orders and also attempted to
trigger stop losses and options barriers.
Under cross examination, McWilliams
accepted that she viewed filling out compliance forms as “box ticking” and also
that Citi’s guidelines cover all means of communication, including chat rooms.
She argued, however, that one reason for
participating in chat rooms was to protect the bank from “completely unprofessional and vicious” clients.
She claimed that the bank established separate accounts for trades with these
clients – whose names were redacted at the tribunal – “in order to measure how
costly this business was over the course of time”
As further evidence of
how these customers operated and the bank’s condoning of chat room
participation, McWilliams further claimed that a
manager asked her to find out about a particular client who was proving troublesome
to the bank, and that she used a text message to a trader at another bank
rather than Bloomberg chat.
McWilliams is the second of four former
Citi traders who have filed for wrongful dismissal against the bank. Last
November the tribunal ruled that Stimpson had been wrongfully dismissed saying
that bank had breached his contract by failing to pay him notice.
In the written judgement of the Stimpson
case, Judge Alison Russell, who is also hearing the McWilliams claim, found
that the claimant was dismissed but generally speaking on a technicality,
adding that the bank’s own investigation into the matter were not thorough
enough and ignored potentially important evidence that may have changed the
Former Citi traders Robert Hoodless and David Madaras are also due to
start wrongful dismissal cases against the bank in the coming weeks.