RBC ordered to pay £1.2m to London whistleblower

Royal Bank of Canada has been ordered to pay more than £1m in compensation to a former employee who lost his job after blowing the whistle on compliance failings at the Toronto-based bank’s London operation.

John Banerjee won his unfair dismissal case against RBC in July 2018 in what was a rare ruling in favour of a City whistleblower. Now, according to documents seen by Financial News, UK employment judge Mr J Tayler has told the bank to pay Banerjee around £1.2m to cover lost earnings.

The former foreign exchange trader sued RBC for £13m, claiming he had been fired in 2016 after raising concerns about a box-ticking compliance culture at the Canadian bank.

RBC said Banerjee had been dismissed because of poor time keeping but London employment Judge Tayler ultimately ruled in the former trader’s favour.

In the wake of Banerjee’s dismissal, RBC has faced complaints about culture and compliance from more than 60 current and former employees across its global business — about a fifth of whom are based in London, according to a person familiar with the matter.

RBC Capital Markets, RBC’s investment banking arm, remains under investigation by the UK Financial Conduct Authority over working practices at its London office. RBC is also facing four lawsuits in Toronto from former staff alleging a culture of bullying and “rampant harassment” in its compliance department.

RBC said in a statement: “We are committed to actively maintaining an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up. We take all concerns raised seriously and we continue to work hard to build a strong culture that employees are proud to be a part of.”

Court documents show Banerjee earnt £200,000 a year and an average bonus of £80,000 at the time of his dismissal. Judge Tayler based his decision to award £1.2m on the calculation that Banerjee would have retired as a trader at RBC in 2021.

Judge Tayler said: “I am prepared to accept that [Banerjee] would have continued trading longer than is the norm. He was unusually committed to the role of being a trader.”

The final payout could change following a February hearing into whether RBC failed to comply with an Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service code on disciplinary matters.

In the tribunal’s decision, it noted that the bank acknowledged in its closing submissions that Banerjee would have received a first warning had he been “treated fairly and not dismissed because of making protected disclosures.”

Financial News | February 4, 2019