Former RBC currency trader sues bank for unfair dismissal, alleges boss offered ‘bribe’ to cover up error

A former Royal Bank of Canada currency trader sued the lender for 13 million pounds (US$18 million) for unfair dismissal, alleging that a senior manager had offered him a “bribe” to cover up a trading error.

John Banerjee said in a witness statement at an employment tribunal in London this week that six months after joining RBC as an emerging market foreign currency director in June 2015, he lost $880,000 overnight because a colleague failed to carry out an order to abandon a trading position when the South African rand suddenly appreciated.

When Banerjee’s colleague denied making an error, he said he asked RBC’s global head of foreign currency trading, Ed Monaghan, to investigate. Monaghan stalled and, when Banerjee insisted on a proper investigation, flew into a “rage.”

“An investigation will make the department look bad, and that means you will look bad,” Banerjee cited Monaghan as saying. “Is it the loss that bothers you? I’ll cut you a cheque for the loss — just drop it.” Banerjee, who is suing for unfair dismissal and failure to protect a whistleblower, described the offer as a “bribe.”

RBC believes “this claim to be without merit and are vigorously defending our position,” the Toronto-based bank said in a statement. Monaghan attended the proceedings Thursday, but declined to comment while the case is ongoing.

Banerjee, who turned 50 earlier this month, said he previously had a successful trading career that included stints at Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc. In August 2016, RBC dismissed him for repeatedly coming late to work and “exited” three other people on the spot foreign currency trading team, while Monaghan took early retirement in October 2017, Banerjee said.

Tribunal Caps

Whistleblowing claims are frequently added to U.K. employment tribunal lawsuits to avoid an 83,700-pound cap on damages. Awards are normally limited to that amount unless a former employee can prove they were the victim of discrimination or had made a public-interest disclosure.

Banerjee said his run-in with Monaghan hadn’t been his first issue at RBC. He said his managers had also been resistant to changing a policy, which he said created a conflict of interest for traders. He added that no one at the bank had read the policy.

The trader was questioned by Jane Mulcahy, a lawyer for RBC, at the tribunal on Wednesday, who said he was exaggerating some of his claims.

“It’s a preposterous thing to say that no one bar yourself had read the policy,” Mulcahy said.

Bloomberg.com

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