A United States of America banker, Szabolcs Fekete, has lost his job and lawsuit with Citibank over lunch expenses with his partner, and then lying about it.
After he was fired in 2022 for gross misconduct, he lied about having two coffees, two sandwiches, and two pastas with his partner and accused the bank of unfair dismissal.
Fekete claimed that he alone had consumed two sandwiches, two coffees and two pasta dishes during a business trip to Amsterdam.
However, he later admitted that his partner had shared some meals.
Fekete, who worked at the bank for seven years as an analyst specialising in financial crime, had journeyed to Amsterdam for work between 3 and 5 July 2022.
On returning to London, he filed an expense claim for food and drink which he believed was covered by the bank’s €100 (£86.70) daily allowance.
However, the boss he presented his claim to asked if he had eaten all the food and refreshments he was seeking reimbursement for.
“I was on the business trip by myself and… I had two coffees as they were very small.
“On that day I skipped breakfast and only had one coffee in the morning. For lunch, I had one sandwich with a drink and one coffee in the restaurant, and took another coffee back to the office with me and had the second sandwich in the afternoon… which also served as my dinner.”
“All my expenses are within the €100 daily allowance. Could you please outline what your concern is as I don’t think I have to justify my eating habits to this extent,” Fekete explained in an email conversation detailed in the employment tribunal ruling.
The bank reported the act to its security and investigations services department, which led to Fekete’s dismissal.
Fekete dragged the bank to court for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal.
In a verdict by Employment Judge, Caroline Illing ruled in favour of Citibank.
“I have found that this case is not about the sums of money involved. This case is about the filing of the expense claim and the conduct of the claimant thereafter.
“It is significant that the claimant did not make a full and frank disclosure at the first opportunity and that he did not answer questions directly.”
“The claimant was employed in a position of trust in a global financial institution.
“I am satisfied that even if the expense claim had been filed under a misunderstanding, there was an obligation upon the claimant to own up and rectify the position at the first opportunity. I accept that the respondent requires a commitment to honesty from its employees,” Judge Illing said.
In response to the verdict, a spokesperson for the bank expressed satisfaction, saying, “We are pleased with the decision.”