CBA trader the latest to lose job in messaging scandal

A Commonwealth Bank trader is the latest to lose his job as a result of an internal messaging scandal that has already seen a former ANZ senior trader sacked and suing the bank for unfair dismissal.

In their defence to a $30 million unfair dismissal suit brought by former trader Etienne Alexiou, ANZ have detailed the explicit chats between Mr Alexiou and traders at the CBA, UBS and HSBC.

Despite claiming he was the victim of a “toxic culture” at ANZ, the Bloomberg chats between Mr Alexiou and other bankers show Mr Alexiou engaging in explicit, derogatory and at times racist conversations about women as well as discussions about drugs.

Ironically, at one point in the conversation, CBA banker Garfield Lee questions whether the CBA and ANZ would be monitoring the conversation.

“I can imagine ANZ and CBA compliance guys reading this chat,” Mr Lee wrote in a September 2011 chat.

“Mmm, not exactly sackable,” Mr Alexiou replied.

The Australian understands that Mr Lee was stood down from the bank on Wednesday after the CBA became aware of his involvement in the chats.

A spokesman for CBA confirmed to The Australian this afternoon that the employee was dismissed after an investigation into non-trading related behaviour, finding that his behaviour “contradicts the core values” of the bank.

“Commonwealth Bank is currently conducting an internal investigation of communications that occurred between 2009 and 2013,” the bank said in a statement.

“Part of this investigation has uncovered evidence of non-trading related breaches that has resulted in the dismissal of an employee for offensive language and behaviour.

“Commonwealth Bank has zero tolerance for conduct that contradicts our core values by any employee and we demand high standards of behaviour and professional conduct from all our employees.”

The explicit chats were not included in Mr Alexiou’s statement of claim filed with the Federal Court.

Bankers at UBS and HSBC are also involved in the conversations that detail discussions about sex with women and drugs taken on the weekend.

At one point the group are discussing how to make extra money when Mr Alexiou suggests “sell some drugs.”

In a statement to staff today, chief risk officer Nigel Williams pointed out the chats were not between ANZ staff.

“While our defence is a legal document containing unequivocal denials of many of the specific claims made by Mr Alexiou, it also contains the letter of dismissal provided to him in September 2015,” Mr Williams said.

“This includes a selection of the unacceptable electronic chats between Mr Alexiou and individuals at other banks. These make very difficult reading.

“The exchange highlights the individuals were fully aware of the unacceptable nature of their communications and that it is simple common sense that no organisation could tolerate behaviour of this nature in its workplace.

“I want to note that the chats reported today are generally not with other ANZ staff — they are mostly with several individuals from other financial institutions. Together with what we know from searches of many millions of electronic records, it highlights the unacceptable behaviour is not part of a wider culture at ANZ but is isolated behaviour between a few individuals.”

Mr Alexiou, who was on a salary package worth $5 million, was stood down along with six others, with full pay in late 2014 as part of an investi­gation by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission into the possible rigging of the Bank Bill Swap Rate (BBSW).

A former Barclays Bank senior trader, Mr Alexiou was dismissed as ANZ’s head of mismatch trading permanently in August last year after being investigated for more than 400 communications that the bank alleges breached its code of conduct.

Last Friday another former banker Patrick O’Connor dropped his unfair dismissal caseagainst the bank after being sacked for misuse of his corporate credit card.


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