A former trader at BNP Paribas SA’s investment banking arm in the U.S. who was fired over a one-day 17.3 million-euro ($19 million) loss, won nearly 1.3 million euros in an unfair-dismissal lawsuit.
The Paris court of appeals said that Lionel Crassier, the bank’s former U.S. head of equities, was unduly punished twice by BNP. The judges ruled he was unfairly fired after the bank had already sanctioned him for the trading loss by abruptly recalling him from New York.
Labor lawsuits are a rare opportunity to glean details on trading disasters. Last year, BNP lost a separate case in Paris after demoting its former global head of foreign exchange arbitrage over a 2.7 million-euro loss he suffered during his first month on the job. Even the country’s biggest trading loss ended with Jerome Kerviel briefly winning 455,500 euros before that unfair-dismissal award was overturned last year.
Crassier’s dismissal letter, cited in the ruling, says the 17-year veteran built up a trading position on March 26, 2012, comprising 65,000 mini futures that exceeded his 100 million-euro overnight limit and generated the $19 million loss at market close.
Crassier failed to react that day when BNP Paribas Securities Services, “surprised” by the volume, contacted him. It was only after his boss reached out that the former trader provided explanations, according to the dismissal letter.
“You acknowledged having focused on volume, rather than the total value of your positions and without monitoring your P&L in real time, which is proof of your poor analysis and a flagrant lack of vigilance,” BNP said in the letter, in reference to his portfolio of trades. “Your behavior is unacceptable.”
Officials at BNP said the bank doesn’t comment on court cases, when asked about the Nov. 26 ruling. A lawyer for Crassier declined to immediately provide a comment.