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Citi accused of trumpeting forex trader dismissal amid probe

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Citi accused of trumpeting forex trader dismissal amid probe

Citigroup Inc

Citi accused of trumpeting forex trader dismissal amid probe

Ramchandani alleges bank fired him without due process to curry favour with watchdogs

Rohan Ramchandani was acquitted at trial in late 2018 © Charlie Bibby/FT

One of Citigroup’s former top currency traders, acquitted of US foreign exchange-rigging charges, will allege that the bank trumpeted his dismissal to journalists and prosecutors amid a transatlantic investigation.

Rohan Ramchandani, who was Citi’s head of European spot forex trading in London, will begin giving evidence against the Wall Street giant on Wednesday in his unfair-dismissal claim at an employment tribunal in London’s Docklands, in the shadow of the bank’s skyscraper in Canary Wharf.

He alleges the bank fired him in 2014 without warning or due process in an attempt to curry favour with the watchdogs as they probed rigging of the $5tn-a-day market.

Citi made Mr Ramchandani’s “dismissal known publicly, without warning to him” and this “caused him to suffer public humiliation and serious and possibly irreparable damage to his professional reputation, thus [ . . .] in the public mind, prejudging his actions in matters which are the subject of the regulatory investigation”, his claim reads.

He said Citi made a show of firing him just as US regulators were visiting Citi’s offices. The bank has paid about $1.7bn in fines and settlements with the US Department of Justice, and European, UK and US regulators since 2014 for forex-rigging, and has avoided criminal charges.

Mr Ramchandani’s claim is capped at £80,000, a fraction of the total £1m-plus annual pay he earned. But he is also seeking reinstatement. If successful, that means he could be eligible for an award equal to his backdated pay and awards.

A successful tribunal claim would also enable Mr Ramchandani, who also sat on a Bank of England industry group, to launch civil proceedings to try to access his bonus.

He alleges that the timing of his firing in January 2014 meant Citi could avoid paying him his bonus. He claims that the fact that the bank chose to pay him three months’ salary rather than summarily dismissing him on the spot shows he committed no gross misconduct.

Mr Ramchandani, 39, is also suing Citi in a New York court for at least $112m, alleging that the bank “framed” him to protect itself in the throes of the forex scandal, which eventually led to him facing the possibility of a decade in jail.

He and two other London-based traders at Barclays and JPMorgan Chase were charged by the DoJ with price-fixing. The three were members of a chatroom dubbed “the Cartel”. All three were acquitted in October 2018 by a New York jury.

The bank will argue at the tribunal that it genuinely believed Mr Ramchandani had wrongly shared confidential information in the chat rooms, and that he had become a focus for authorities from November 2013.

His US claim, which Citi disputes in its entirety, is proof of the irrevocable breakdown in trust, and Mr Ramchandani’s hostility, the bank will argue. This means that reinstatement is not realistic, and in any case there is no vacancy, it will say.

A Citi spokeswoman said: “As part of Citi’s FX investigation in 2014/5, Citi terminated Rohan Ramchandani. Individual accountability continues to be important to Citi, and for that reason we are disputing Rohan Ramchandani’s request for compensation, reinstatement and re-engagement in the employment tribunal. We expect our employees to adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

Citi’s witnesses to help defend Mr Ramchandani’s claim include Jamie Forese, Citi’s former president and head of investment banking, who is travelling from the US to give evidence. Ultimately, it was his decision to fire Mr Ramchandani.

Mr Ramchandani is calling on witnesses including Carly Hosler as part of his case to help bolster his claim. The evidence of Ms Hosler, a former colleague of Mr Ramchandani, played a key part in the criminal trial, as she explained that interbank chat rooms were common in the forex market.

Additional reporting by Katie Martin in London

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