ANZ trader sacked for “lewd and explicit messages” is suing for $30m and says the bank’condoned a rampant culture of sex, drugs and alcohol’
By Jenny Awford for Daily Mail Australia
Published 08:24 EST15 January 2016

A senior ANZ trader sacked for sending ‘explicit messages’ about strip clubs and drugs is suing the bank for $30million, claiming it condoned a toxic culture of narcotics, alcohol and sex.

Etienne Alexiou claimed that when a ‘white substance’ was found in the toilets on the bank’s dealing floor one trader said: ‘What a waste, it should have been sprinkled on a birthday cake’.  He also alleged in his court statement that he raised concerns about the bank’s conduct towards investors and clients on three occasions and claimed drunk traders damaged property at a retreat.

Mr. Alexiou is suing the bank along with senior bond salesman, Patrick O’Connor, who was fired for running up $37,000 of expenses including spending $18,000 on rare coins, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.  They were stood down during an investigation by the corporate watchdog into possible manipulation of the bank bill swap rate.  They are both separately suing ANZ in the Federal Court for lost bonuses, damages and the loss of future income a a result of his sacking.

Mr. Alexiou, who helped oversee a portfolio worth more than $120 billion, was one of seven traders suspended in mid-November.  They were stood down during an investigation by the corporate watchdog into possible manipulation of the bank bill swap rate.

His letter, which has been seen by the Sydney Morning Herald, cited 400 internal and external communications of concern from 2011 until September 2013.  But he has now claimed, according to court documents, that there was ‘no proper reason’ to fire him.  He has also claimed that the culture on the trading floor conflicted with the conduct levels demanded by the bank.

Mr Alexiou is claiming $8.5 million in withheld payments and $21 million in past and future income losses  He was forced to put up his Point Piper mansion for sale in November 2015 for more than $8 million, just 18 months after he bought it.

The senior trader said the behaviour of the bank towards investors and clients may have amounted to a potential breach of the Corporations Act.  He also questioned why he had not been reinstated while there were no 'findings of wrongdoing' on his part.

But ANZ has insisted the staff were dismissed for 'serious breaches' of its code and the bank said it would 'be vigorously defending both their court applications'.  ANZ's chief risk officer, Nigel Williams, said: 'Mr O’Connor’s dismissal related to abuse of a company-issued credit card and both Mr O’Connor’s and Mr Alexiou’s dismissals related to highly inappropriate and offensive electronic communication. 

'ANZ will be vigorously defending both their court applications. Appropriate conduct, compliance with ANZ policies and respect for others is paramount at ANZ.   'Where there is evidence that someone has not acted in a way that is consistent with our Code of Conduct and policies, we will take appropriate disciplinary action. This includes formal warnings, dismissal and, where relevant for more senior staff, bonuses being clawed back.'

Mr Williams said the bank is 'committed' to investigating all cases that are bought to its attention.  'Mr O’Connor and Mr Alexiou have also made allegations about some existing and former staff at ANZ,' he said.

'We are committed to investigating all cases that are bought to our attention either through our own management and monitoring or those raised by current or former staff.   'We have already identified that many of the allegations made in both claims are not accurate and these inaccuracies will become apparent as the matters proceed through the court system.'

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