Ex-Citi Trader Fired for Spoofing Loses U.K. Employment Fight

A former Citigroup Inc. trader who was dismissed for market manipulation after facing questions from the U.K. financial regulator has lost his unfair dismissal case.

King Yew Choo was fired after Citigroup concluded that he was “spoofing” the market for Slovenian government bonds. A London judge said that Choo’s “unique pattern of pricing and trading” gave considerable weight to the bank’s investigation -- even though the Financial Conduct Authority itself took no action.

Choo quoted prices on the government bonds in late 2017 only to execute the trade in the opposite direction, Citigroup said.

“Where the pricing movements appear strange particularly in the light of the claimant’s subsequent trading, in practice the tactical onus lies on the claimant to provide potentially innocent explanations,” Employment Judge Bruce Gardiner said in a ruling published Wednesday.

Choo had argued that the FCA never found his trading to be improper and that the bank simply presumed he was guilty of spoofing. The FCA chose to take no further action, leaving it to Citigroup to run its own probe.

Citigroup declined to comment. Choo said in an email that he planned to appeal the ruling.

Choo “gave several potentially inconsistent and incorrect explanations during the course of the investigatory process,” the judge said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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