A former top currency trader at Citigroup has won an unfair dismissal case against the bank but cannot expect to return to his job, a London employment tribunal has ruled.
Rohan Ramchandani, who was a former head of European foreign exchange trading and was nicknamed ‘Rainman’ for his maths skills, was sacked from Citi in January 2014. He was later charged with foreign exchange rigging by the US Department of Justice but was acquitted by a New York jury in October 2018.
Mr Ramchandani had alleged at a London employment tribunal that the bank unfairly dismissed him from his role without due process or warning. He was seeking reinstatement, which would have made him eligible for all his back pay and any other awards since dismissal.
He claimed Citi’s dismissal was based on his conversations with currency dealers at rival banks in chat rooms — including one nicknamed the ‘Bandits Club’. He maintained that this involved sharing market colour about trading rather than doing anything wrong. The bank alleged that in doing so he was sharing confidential trading information and so breached the bank's guidelines and code of conduct.
Citibank, which has paid $1.7bn in fines and settlements to US, UK and European regulators over forex-rigging allegations since 2014, told the tribunal hearing last year that Mr Ramchandani was dismissed because he breached its code of conduct and guidelines.
Employment judge Alison Russell ruled in favour of Mr Ramchandani’s claim for unfair dismissal on procedural grounds. However, she found that even if Citi had followed correct procedure, Mr Ramchandani’s employment would have been terminated anyway in 2014 for his “foolish, blameworthy behaviour”.
She concluded that Citibank had proved in the tribunal that the reason for his dismissal was his conduct and said that giving him his job back was not practicable.
She also criticised Citibank’s “unreasonable failure” to follow correct procedure in his dismissal and said that the safeguard of a fair disciplinary process was a “fundamental requirement” of employment law even where an employee had committed an act of gross misconduct.
Mr Ramchandani’s tribunal compensation will be automatically capped at around £74,000 — a fraction of the £1m pay he earned each year — but the exact amount has yet to be determined.
The bank said: “Citi had already acknowledged that Mr Ramchandani’s dismissal did not follow Citi’s usual procedures and so this aspect of the judgment is not a surprise. However, Citi welcomes the fact that the tribunal did not order Ramchandani’s return to Citi employment and recognised that his conduct led to the termination of his employment.”
Rohan Ramchandani said: “I am pleased that the tribunal has not only found that I was unfairly dismissed but that Citi acted unreasonably and so has awarded me the maximum uplift for such conduct. The tribunal also accepted my genuine belief that my chats were not improper.”
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