(Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc was sued for unfair dismissal by an equity derivatives trader who was fired for sending client data to his personal Yahoo! Inc. e-mail address.
The trader, Ben Lazimy, sent a 1,400-page spreadsheet listing all the bank’s equities transactions in 2010 that included client names and margins, HSBC lawyer, Clarisse Lebigot, told a Paris employment tribunal Friday.
“The data was confidential and key to the business,” Lebigot said. She called Lazimy’s request for 2.3 million euros ($2.6 million) “absurd” for someone who had worked at the bank for less than six years.
Fired traders routinely turn to specialist labor courts throughout Europe in a bid to recoup lost bonuses and rehabilitate tarnished reputations. In London last week, a Citigroup Inc. foreign-exchange trader who was suspended while on maternity leave won her employment suit against the bank
Lazimy’s lawyer, Jamila El Berry, said the e-mail incident was “an excuse” to fire him, which adds to the harassment he suffered after refusing to transfer from Paris to London amid a restructuring within the bank.
El Berry said her client didn’t breach professional secrecy as the document never got into any outsider’s hands. The spreadsheet was widely available within the bank -- even to interns -- and a police report found the attachment “was damaged and unusable,” she said, adding that prosecutors dismissed HSBC’s criminal complaint.
Banks are under growing pressure to secure their data after high-profile cyber attacks against JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC led to the loss of millions of customer records. One of the most severe risks for a data breach comes from employees, who might unwittingly upload a virus or be blackmailed into helping an attacker.
HSBC is particularly sensitive about the issue after former employee Herve Falciani said he took client data to prove that its Geneva private banking unit was helping foreign clients evade taxes. The case generated global headlines after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a report know as the Swiss Leaks based on Falciani’s data.
A spokesman for HSBC in Paris declined to comment.
El Berry said other Paris traders who refused to move to London were also pressured by the bank. Lazimy went from being praised by management and rising to the position of director to getting negative evaluations, a salary freeze, no bonuses and a reduction to his responsibilities, she told the tribunal.
--With assistance from Kit Chellel
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