There are a few reasons the foreign exchange rate-rigging story refuses to die. There's the gigantic numbers involved – $10 billion in fines so far, trillions of dollars in currency trades hypothetically affected, etc. There's also the growing appetite amongst investors – ranging from tiny day traders to the likes of BlackRock – angling to get a taste of that sweet, sweet legal action. But more than anything, there's the seemingly endless trove of goofy chat transcripts where traders took on dumb club names, giggled about screwing over clients and guilelessly incriminated themselves. And we get to read them!
So if you were a trader unlucky enough to go down as sacrificial lamb for your bank's CYA department in the wake of the regulatory crackdown, the least you can ask for is that only your best material be aired to the public. But Citi ex-trader David Madaras, currently suing his former employer over his termination, evidently won't get even that:
"he’s a seller/fking a," Madaras told a rival trader who had just disclosed the identity of a client, [Citigroup head of equities Timothy] Gately said in a filing prepared ahead of the hearing. That chatroom message "validated an external trader’s disclosure of a client name," Gately said in the filing.
Three of those five little words were enough to get Madaras fired in the course of the bank's review of employee chats after the forex scandal broke. The shame in Madaras' case is not so much that he got fired for disclosing client information, but that he got fired for disclosing client information in such a boring way. Even the profanity is muted.
Like others before him, Madaras is telling the British employment court that he was simply following trading SOP, which was tolerated by a hands-off and largely complicit management that has managed, against all odds, to keep their jobs. So far, the British court has believed the employees' story slightly more than the “intolerable breaches of our code of conduct” line trotted out by Citi in the actions; Citi's batting 0-3.