Former Barclays trader Chris Ashton told his supervisors that comments he made in electronic chat groups that led to his firing were 'pure bravado', the executive who chaired his disciplinary hearing told a London court Wednesday.
Bloomberg News reports that recounting an April 2015 hearing, Justin Bull, the bank’s former chief operating officer, said he showed Ashton transcripts of chats that included discussions about "using inside information" to make money, a joke about his best friend’s wife and references to participating in a "cartel.”
Ashton dismissed his comments as "silly" and "bravado,” Bull said in a statement submitted to the court as part of Ashton’s lawsuit against the bank.
Barclays and other banks have fired dozens of traders in the aftermath of regulatory probes into foreign-exchange markets, which have led to fines of at least $10bn. Ashton is accusing Barclays of unfairly firing him after he warned his bosses in 2012 about interbank electronic chats and the lack of guidance as to what constituted acceptable "market colour" that could be shared with rival traders.
"We are well aware that trading floors can, on occasion, be boisterous," Bull said in his statement. "However, we considered there was a fundamental difference between jokes shared between colleagues on a trading floor and using an electronic communication system to send inappropriate and offensive messages to external third parties."
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