(Adds Stimpson comment, Citi comment, details)
By Steve Slater
LONDON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A London employment tribunal has ruled against U.S. bank Citigroup on Tuesday in a dispute over the dismissal of a foreign exchange trader.
Judge Alison Russell ruled against of the bank in its dispute with Perry Stimpson, a forex trader in London who was fired in November 2014.
The decision is seen as a significant test case as it is the first of several due to be heard at London employment tribunals by former traders dismissed in the wake of investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign exchange and benchmark Libor rates.
Stimpson, who was a forex trader at Citigroup for 25 years, said he was unfairly dismissed by Citigroup, which fired him for sharing confidential client information with other traders. Stimpson had said the sharing of information in chatrooms was known about and condoned by senior management.
“We had few guidelines, and the punishment handed to me was both harsh and unfair, ” Stimpson said in a statement.
“It was as if I had been fined for driving at 30 mile per hour along a road 5 years before a 20 mph speed limit had been put in place.”
In her ruling the judge said that Stimpson was unfairly dismissed and that Citigroup had breached his contract by failing to pay him notice. She also ruled that Stimpson had contributed to his dismissal.
“While we are disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s decision, individual accountability is important to us and for that reason we defended the case in the tribunal,” a Citi spokeswoman said in a statement.
“We expect our employees to adhere to the highest ethical standards and will not tolerate breaches of our code of conduct.”
Citigroup is one of seven banks to be fined more than $10 billion for failing to stop traders manipulating the $5.3 trillion-a-day forex market between 2008 and October 2013.
Citigroup paid $2.3 billion in fines to U.S. and British authorities, and the bank’s chief executive Mike Corbat has said the behaviour was “an embarrassment to our firm”.
Stimpson admitted at the hearing he shared information about a central bank client in a chatroom. But he said that whether client information could be distributed was a “bit of a grey area”, and that the activity of central bank clients was widely shared across the industry.
Other traders and banks have been watching the outcome of the case with interest, industry sources said.
A former Royal Bank of Scotland trader had a hearing last month, a former HSBC trader has made a claim, and three more former Citigroup forex traders are scheduled to have hearings next year.
The hearing was heard at the East London Employment Tribunal between Sept. 8-17. (Reporting By Steve Slater, editing by Anjuli)