A former trader at BNP Paribas's investment banking arm in the US who was fired over a one-day €17.3 million ($29.6m) loss, won nearly €1.3m ($2.2m) in an unfair-dismissal lawsuit.
The Paris court of appeals said that Lionel Crassier, the bank's former US 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.
Labour 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 €2.7m 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 before that unfair-dismissal award was overturned last year.
The 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 €100m overnight limit and generated the €17.3m loss at market close.
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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 November 26 ruling. A lawyer for Crassier declined to immediately provide a comment.
The Paris court of appeals overturned a 2017 ruling from lower judges that had dismissed Crassier's claims and ordered him to pay €500,000 to cover BNP's legal fees. The appellate judges awarded him severance pay, unpaid bonuses and damages, but refused to compensate him for the career harm he suffered.
Crassier sought €3.5m to make up for his great loss in revenue and the "impossibility for him to work in a field he was passionate about" given the conditions of his dismissal.
Crassier started his career at BNP as an equity derivatives options trader in the Tokyo office in the mid-1990s. His LinkedIn profile says he's now a Geneva-based entrepreneur.