ANZ probes sacked traders' allegations of sex, drugs, booze

ANZ is investigating allegations of a company culture of sex, drugs and alcohol in a lawsuit against the bank by two dismissed traders.
ANZ is investigating allegations of a company culture of sex, drugs and alcohol in a lawsuit against the bank by two dismissed traders.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said on Friday (Jan 15) it is investigating allegations of a company culture of sex, drugs and alcohol that are part of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the bank by two dismissed traders.

The Australian Financial Review newspaper cited court documents filed by Etienne Alexiou and Patrick O'Connor that claim to demonstrate a toxic culture within the senior ranks of the Global Markets division at ANZ.

Mr Alexiou was fired for inappropriate and offensive electronic communications, while Mr O'Connor was dismissed for abuse of a company-issued credit card, ANZ said. The pair are suing Australia's No.3 bank for tens of millions of dollars.

"In relation to the applications filed with the Federal Court, all matters raised have either been investigated or are under current investigation," ANZ said in a statement responding to the newspaper report. "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."

ANZ would vigorously defend the court applications made by Mr O'Connor and Mr Alexiou against their dismissal, the bank said.

The court documents detail a hard partying, big spending, sexist, alcohol-fuelled culture in ANZ's global markets division, which employs more than 1,000 people. They describe corporate trips to lapdancing clubs and routine derogatory comments about women on the trading floor.

The claims come at a time of growing global concern around financial markets conduct. For ANZ, this includes an investigation by the markets watchdog into fixing of the benchmark bank bill swap reference rate (BBSW).

Alexiou's court statement also alleges that he alerted the bank's senior management on at least three occasions about the unethical treatment of its investors.