Ex-Deutsche Bank Trader Bittar, Others Drop FCA ‘Identity’ Suits

(Bloomberg) -- Ex-Deutsche Bank AG trader Christian Bittar and at least four other high-profile individuals caught-up in regulatory probes have withdrawn lawsuits against the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority over claims they were improperly identified in penalty notices, according to court records.

Bittar, along with former Barclays Plc Libor trader Philippe Moryoussef, had their cases closed March 30, a court clerk said by phone Monday, confirming records that showed the claims had been dropped. Richard Usher, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s former London chief currency dealer, and Citigroup Inc.’s former head of G-10 spot-currency trading, Rohan Ramchandani, also withdrew their suits in recent weeks.

The former traders abandoned their legal actions following a landmark court ruling on the issue last month. The FCA has traditionally used nicknames such as “Trader A” in settlement notices with firms to get around a requirement a person must be given the chance to respond to allegations if they’re identified.

However, several people complained the FCA didn’t go far enough in anonymizing them.

The FCA won the first case to reach the U.K. Supreme Court on the matter, making it more difficult for the claimants to achieve success against the regulator.

The country’s top court said the FCA didn’t identify former JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive Achilles Macris in a sanction notice related to the so-called London Whale scandal, reversing two lower court decisions. The FCA penalty notice made several references to faults by “CIO London management,” a label Macris contended easily identified him because he was responsible for the bank’s chief investment office in Europe and was based in London.

Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Sumption said the moniker wasn’t "sufficiently precise" to identify Macris. The court said the person must be identifiable by the public at large, not just a select group of banking peers. These conditions create a high hurdle for individuals.

Javier Martin-Artajo, another former JPMorgan trader involved in the London Whale case, also dropped his case this month, the clerk said. Lawyers for the men either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the FCA declined to comment.

Despite its success on the issue, the FCA wants to overhaul how it approaches penalty notices, the agency’s enforcement head Mark Steward told Bloomberg News in an interview last month. The regulator is planning to run shorter investigations and reach conclusions on individuals and their employers concurrently, allowing it for the first time to identify traders by name in company-penalty notices, Steward said.